Does Your Audience Choose A Blackberry or You?

Speakers continually complain that their audiences are always checking their blackberries instead of listening. It's a constant challenge.
They can take a lesson from a flight attendant named Holly.

On a crowded Continental Express flight to Chicago, before the attendant began her announcement she asked people to remove their coats
from the overhead compartment to make room for baggage. She explained that smaller bags and coats must go under the seat. This was an FCC regulation for our safety to enable us to easily evacuate.

Then she began her presentation. I continued reading. I already knew the drill. She said,"Okay. Holly's Rules."
That was different. I was curious and looked up. She followed with "I'm going to show you how to walk, talk, and breathe."
Now she really had my attention. Holly told us to expect a bumpy ride and not to hold on to the back of the seats when walking. "That will only cause people to wake up," she joked.
She demonstrated how to hold on to the edge of the overhead panels when walking down the aisle. "Well, that takes care of walking and talking.
Now how do you breathe?" Holly told us that if the oxygen cups descended we would know if oxygen was flowing by noticing little beads in the clear air tubes. Pulling on the tube would activate it. In all my years of flying I never heard that. I actually learned somethng new. She wanted us to be informed because her oxygen mask didn't reach far and she wouldn't be able to get to everybody in an emergency.
Everyone was now paying attention and fully engaged!

Finally she asked if anybody read the instructions about electronic devices. She confideded that she doesn't read them either and that's why they make announcments.
She listed the devices that could be used. Restricted devices were anything that required an electonic signal. She said that if you tried to use a blackberry it would constantly look for a signal and this would drain the battery. I didn't know that either.

One last thing. She asked the passengers if she should make one pot or two pots of coffee. We voted. Then she confided that she was shy and didn't like making
At the end of her presentation the passengers applauded. One person remarked, "That was the best presentation I've heard."

Why do most people tune out during take-off? Because most flight attendants are reading or reciting data. Like so many boring presenters, they are just talking heads.

So what did Holly teach us about speaking?

She began by establishing rapport.
She didn't speak to one person; she spoke to the group about storing bags under the seat. (Teachable moment)
She grabbed attention by saying something unexpected. (Holly's rules)
She provided an agenda of her presentation. (Walk, talk, and breathe).
She managed our expectations. (It's going to be a bumpy ride).
She personalized the messsage.
She modeled behavior. (Demonstrated how to walk during turbulence).
She always offered a rationale after making a request. (FCC regulation to help you evacuate).
She used humor.
She provided new information. (Look for the beads in the air tube).
She was clear, simple, and brief.
She used self-disclosure. (I don't like giving presentations).
She engaged the audience. (One pot or two?).

Holly"s presentation set a lighter, pleasant tone for the trip.

Lesson learned:
If you want your audience to focus on you instead of a blackberry, be compelling.