Some things just aren’t contagious

Some things just aren’t contagious

I was at lunch the other day with a good friend who is a chemist for IBM (he’s got like 10 patents under his name for them…so clearly he loves this stuff!). He was feverishly telling me about the advancement he just made in their chemical plating process….something about erosion rates….oy. I smiled and ‘Wow!’ed and did my best to follow along.

He was so excited, though! He’d led the charge to make the change in the first place and he’d been part of the research group on the project. It had been a massive part of his life for some time and now it he was really getting somewhere. So, I tried to be really excited with him, and I was happy for him. But I simply couldn’t raise my ‘thrill’ level to match his. It didn’t matter how many pictures he showed me or how loud his voice got.

This lunch gave me meeting deja vu. It gave me the exact discomfort I get when a speaker at a meeting is so excited to announce a news bite and they’re standing up there on the stage going wild, voice raised, arms waving, lights flashing, screen buzzing, audience…. audience… audience?

Yeah, they’re not there—you lost ‘em. They’re totally disengaged. They haven’t gone along for the ride. And it’s uncomfortable. For everybody.

But why? The speaker was so excited…shouldn’t it spill over?

Yes and no. Excitement can be contagious, but if you don’t case that excitement in a way that your audience can connect with and relate to…well, they won’t connect or relate. This is important for the exciting moments, but also the entertaining moments, the serious moments, the training moments, the inspiring moments and so on.

Know your audience:

  • Who are they?
  • What do they like?
  • How do they learn?
  • Where are they going next?
  • What are they curious about?
  • What questions do they need answered?

If they’re really tapped into social media, find a way to integrate it. If they’re passionate about music, work that angle. Just don’t assume that your way will grab them…because this isn’t actually about you—you’re already excited. This is about asking, ‘Audience?’ and having them respond in an instant…because they’re right there with you.

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