Be Different, and Keep Your Audience Interested

Larry Crider is a syndicated columnist. I have enjoyed his articles for several years.

Recently Larry read my advice about doing something different when you speak, so you will catch and capture your audience’s attention. Here is how he responded:

You reminded me of something interesting when you said, “Change into costume”.  Several years ago, before I retired from the ministry, my wife and I were visiting in Maui and on a Sunday morning went to the nearest Methodist Church to worship.  The pastor was Samoan as was the wonderful choir.
As the pastor began speaking, he began taking off his coat, tie, shirt, socks and shoes.  Then, explaining that he had special treat that day for the kids, he stepped away into a side room and took off his trousers – which he tossed out so we would see that he had done it.
My wife and I at this point looked at each other and wondered what in the world we had stumbled into.  A few seconds later the pastor stepped back out, with a Samoan headdress made of leaves and wearing a sarong.  Then he invited the children to come forward and began to demonstrate for them the Samoan “slap dance”.  Apparently he had performed this for the senior citizen’s group and several of the children had asked to see it, too.  You can imagine that we – and the rest of the congregation paid attention that morning!

My mind may be old but it still works … just a bit slower.  I remembered another example of the sort of thing you were teaching.  About thirty years ago I invited a fellow to be a guest speaker at one of our Sunday morning services.  When he got up to speak that morning he went to the pulpit, pulled out a small candle holder and placed a candle in it.  Then he lit it.  He never said a word until the candle was burning.  Then he made his speech which was quite good – although he never mentioned the candle.  At the end, he blew out the candle, took it from it’s holder, dropped it in his pocket and sat down.  All through his speech everyone was paying close attention, waiting to see what the candle was all about.  But he never mentioned it.  At lunch later I asked him about it.  He laughed and said, “I’ve found out that sometimes people don’t really listen but when I do that old trick they focus carefully, waiting to see what is going to happen.  As long as the candle burns, they pay attention.  Then, when I never talk about the candle, they never forget the speech!”

MORE ABOUT LARRY CRIDER: Larry Crider is the author of a self-syndicated newspaper column, “Living and Learning” and is a retired United Methodist minister.  A Vietnam veteran, Larry was in broadcasting and journalism for many years before entering the ministry and was one of the voices of the American Forces Vietnam Network, responsible for providing news and entertainment for American military units in Vietnam.  He has also written and produced a radio show called “Curious History” for public broadcast stations. He holds graduate and undergraduate degrees from Southern Methodist University and the University of Houston.

If you want to read Larry’s columns regularly, which I definitely recommend, e-mail him that request:

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