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Public Speaking Course: 

No Brainstoppers!

I made up the term "brainstopper" which means something you say or do that causes the mind of an audience member to stop and think about something. When this happens during a presentation most often it is a bad thing.  I catch students I am coaching delivering a negative brainstopper. It is not good practice of what they learned in my public speaking course.

Here is an example of a good brainstopper. You might say, "Take a moment and think about the first time you remember getting a present."

A statement like this would take the audience's minds back to a distant memory. For most of the audience this will be a pleasant experience, even though some may find it unpleasant. Either way you still are directing the show. You will learn how to lead the audience and direct them to certain thoughts during your public speaking course.

Here is an example of a bad brainstopper. You might say, "That man's elocution is impeccable." All of us brilliant minds and highly educated people know the word "elocution" means fine form in speaking or reading.

If you used this word  in a less educated arena, the second it was out of your mouth, the brains of the audience members would be trying to figure out what the word "elocution" means. Thus, their brains have essentially stopped because you used a word that was not easily understood. The audience member will
not hear your next few sentences because they are still trying to figure out the word "elocution." Do this several times and they will tune out altogether.

Another way to create a brainstopper is by distracting them by displaying an unusual prop before explaining what it is. This would make an audience member stop listening while their minds tried to figure out what the prop is. If you were talking during this time, they wouldn't hear a word you said. 

Examine your word choice and actions carefully before you perform on stage. It is hard enough to keep the attention of you audience. Don't make it worse by using bad brainstoppers. Carefully selected brainstoppers can be a good part of your skills learned from your public speaking course.

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