Stay Focused

With everything that’s happening today, are you being so distracted that it’s reducing your effectiveness?

The implications of the Covid pandemic – working from home, taking care of family, schooling children, managing/supporting other workers – have to be distracting. Add to that increased attention to diversity and inclusion, a national election, economic survival, etc., and it’s not surprising that people are experiencing more stress and are being distracted.  

Now more than ever, you need to take steps to stay focused.   Brent Bailey, a Chair with Vistage Worldwide, shared a story about times he spent with John Wooden, one of the most successful college basketball coaches of all time. He notes that staying focused on what counts was key to his success. for instance, rather than focus on the outcome – winning – he focused his attention and that of the players on “performing to your potential”. Coach Wooden saw this as a higher standard, one that you could control and which would lead to success as a byproduct.  Brent used that approach as his business shifted its focus from being a generic product provider in many markets to a focused approach of building a consumer-brand product.  

We’re seeing this play out in the presentation arena as well. Audience’s attention has shortened (again) and people want you to get to the point more quickly. This means you need to focus in several ways:

  1. Focus the message on the key elements that people need to know. Unless it’s a core concept or essential supporting point, it’s being perceived as a distraction and drains energy/attention from the parties to whom you’re presenting. 
  2. Get to the point quickly; there’s a tendency by many speakers to make sure they set a solid foundation before getting to the key point. However, not everyone needs such an introduction and all too often the audience’s attention is lost before getting to the meat of the presentation. Worse, the speakers then find that they run out of time and speed through the crux of what mattered! (Indeed, when I facilitate new speaker meetings, I often set time limits on the introduction and encourage speakers to check the understanding-assumptions throughout the presentation. The impacts of this focus are greater audience engagement and more discussion on how to apply what they learned.)
  3. Focus your preparation time as well so you can deliver a focused presentation. Use the time-management systems we’ve talked about in prior blogs (e.g., scheduling sufficient, uninterrupted time for specific projects, and taking advantage of your biorhythms when executing) so you can thoroughly (a) think through your ideas and (b) organize and design the material so it is quickly and fully grasped by the audience. 

In sum, now more than ever, you need to stay focused to live up to your potential for each activity and in that way achieves the results you want.

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