48 Capture and Hold Attention
When the audience sees that you are setting up charts, they suspect that you are well-prepared, and this will initially capture their interest. If they see that you are bringing a CD with you as you walk to the podium, they wonder what’s on it. Even before the visual aid is used in the speech, it is already capturing attention. When you hold something in your hands and tell your audience about the object, they have something to look at while they listen to you. The same is true if you use a large map, chart, slides, photographs, or drawings and make reference to the information. As you hold the object and refer to it, your audience will follow with their eyes and their minds.
Think of how the college classroom has evolved over the past decade. Chances are your classrooms have included multimedia presentations to enhance the teaching and learning process (Harris 260-67). Your instructors tell the deans and college presidents that the students in college today grew up with computers, technology, and video. To think that a professor can hold their attention for a fifty-minute lecture with nothing but a booming voice and a piece of chalk is a bit naive. You can grab and hold the attention of your audience for five to ten minutes without using visual aids. But if the occasion allows, why not take advantage of the power of both sight and sound to capture and maintain their interest?