The Wisdom of Jack Johnson

19th November, 2010 - Posted from janebeard

Just heard this old Jack Johnson song, Sitting, Waiting, Wishing…and thought of a bunch of audiences we’ve sat in recently. If they weren’t singing his refrain in their heads, they could have been.

We watched audience sitting, waiting for some content they didn’t already know, and wishing they were anywhere BUT in that room. They were bored, and visibly unhappy their valuable time was being wasted by a speaker and a topic which went on way too long.

We live in a world of customized content delivery. We choose what news stories we read, what music we hear and in what order, what shows we watch and when we watch them. We don’t even have to show up at an appointed time to get the content we want. By the month, we become more and more self-directed in the ways we access content. And we access it in shorter bursts, as well.

So it’s no wonder that we don’t have the inclination to tune into long presentations anymore. We no longer have the patience to wade through long explanations, especially if it’s a topic we already know about. We tune in faster, listen for the good stuff — and then tune out.

Speakers have to catch up.

If you think you need an hour to cover your topic, find a way to do it in 30 minutes.

Look for alternative ways to get us details you’d like us to have, but which we may not actually need. Follow up emails and handouts are a good way to do that.

Be ruthlessly clear with yourself about how you want us to use what you have to share.
If all you’re going to do is make a report, send it in an email and skip the talk. It’s not enough anymore to share information in the “nice to know” category. Give us the information that will change a perspective, empower an action, shift a strategy, or illuminate a larger idea. THAT’s the stuff that matters.

Talk to us — don’t present to us. Because we access personalized content delivery so often, your talk has to feel intimate and conversational, not formal and speech-y. Formal and speech-y is too easy to tune out.

Otherwise, you may be seeing the lyrics to Jack’s song in the thought bubble above your next audience.