Distractions are the divided attention of an individual or group from the chosen object of attention, onto the source of distraction. Distractions are caused by: the lack of ability to pay attention; lack of interest in the object of attention; or the great intensity, novelty or alertness of something other than the object of attention. Distractions come from both external sources and internal sources. “Art of Public Speaking” by Stephen E Lucas In this assignment I will focus on five listening distractions and effective ways to combat them.
In order to become an effective speaker, it should be known that success comes from being an effective listener. By understanding barriers to listening the speaker can eliminate or reduce distraction prior to delivery of the speech.
Some distractors are listed below.
1.Noise: Intrapersonal, Semantic and Situational
a.Intrapersonal; this comes from a listener’s internal dialog, daydreaming, or focusing on their internal thoughts “day dreaming”. By listening to their internal speech, the listener will lose concentration on the speaker and miss points and topics of the speech. b.Semantic; these are words or phrases used by the speaker that my trigger a process of thought out of line with what the speaker intended. These “trigger” words are based on several different aspects of the audience’s make-up, from gender to ethnical or country of origin and religion. c.Situational; this is the physical noise distraction that may come from the design of the lecture hall, an open door or window that allows outside noise to enter, or the rustling noises associated with the audience, i.e. cell phones, coughing, side bar conversation.
a.This is the perception the audience makes in reference to the speaker, how the speaker presents themselves, does the speaker use filler words such as, “umh” or “you know”. Does the speaker utilize a slow methodical pattern which bores the audience, calling into question the speaker’s intellect?
3.Self-Perceptions and Personal Biases
a.Comprises anything that is a barrier to understanding the speaker’s message an includes egocentrism, Ethnocentrism, and dogmatism I. Egocentrism focuses on the self-centeredness and may limit the listener because of the feeling “this doesn’t pertain to me”, “I’ve already heard this message”, or “ I am too important to be listening to someone like that” II.Ethnocentrism is based on the perception of because we don’t share a creed, color, or back ground, the speaker cannot understand the message from “my” point of view. Likewise the speaker focuses, or centers their speech in a manner that is ethnically limiting.
III.Dogmatism the problem of holding opinions without questioning the validity or ethical value. Unquestioned opinions can lead to defensiveness or the attitude of, “I know it all” This behavior can cause the listener to take offense to the message the speaker is conveying. 4.Physical discomfort caused by poor seating, temperature, or length of the speech without break for restroom or smoke breaks. 5.Lack of interest the speaker has lost focus, changed topic without smooth transition, and maintains a monotone which in-turn shifts the listener’s attention. May also be due to the speaker’s lack of interest in the topic resulting in poor public speaking techniques.
The key to contending with these distractions are to practice the speech, become comfortable with the topic, know how long the speech will last, film the practice session and identify personal traits that may cause distraction. Have someone listen to the speech to identify patterns or behaviors that may be offensive or controversial. Understand the message, what is the purpose of the speech; focus on the transition of thoughts and ideas to ensure a smooth process. Avoid monotone voice patterns unless it is an essential part of the delivery. Have fun with the topic, the speech and the audience. Before speaking conduct a walkthrough of the lecture hall, identify distractors and eliminate them or strategize how to overcome them. Bottom line, be prepared.