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Public Speaking Course: 

No Brainstoppers!

A "brainstopper" is something you say or do that causes the mind of an audience member to stop and think, not necessarily about the point your trying to make. I made up this term to define what can happen during a presentation that either adds or subtracts the attention of your audience.  Most of the time when during a public speaking course I catch a student delivering a negative brainstopper, it's a bad thing and not good practice of what they have learned.

Here is an example of a good brainstopper. You might say, "Take a
moment and think about the first toy you had as a child."

A statement like this would take the audience member's mind from where it
is now to a distant memory. For most of the audience this will be a
pleasant experience. For some it may be unpleasant. Either way you
still are directing the show. You might do this to make some kind of
point about how simple things used to please us, or something like
that. You will learn how to lead the audience in this way during your public speaking course.

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

But obviously if this word was used in a less educated arena, the instant it came out of your mouth,
the brains of the audience members would be racing 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 ... unless of course you are Deepak Chopra who gets
high praise for being totally unintelligible. hahahahaha

Another way to stop someone's brain is to distract them by what you are doing on stage. You might display 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. 

Look at your word choice and actions carefully before you exhibit them
on stage. It is hard enough to keep attention in today's short
attention span environments. Don't make it worse by using bad
brainstoppers. Carefully selected and cleverly used brainstoppers can
be a good part of your skills learned from your public speaking course.


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