What’s worse than an audience which loses concentration during presentations? If it’s the presenter who loses focus and it reflects in his presentation and delivery. While it may seem “natural” for the audience to lose focus, a presenter who seems unfocused may appear downright ineffective, if not unprofessional.
In today’s world where we want to do so many things and various resources are quickly available within our disposal, our brains have been accustomed to distractions amid these current diversions competing for our attention.
Multitasking is now the buzzword. Yet, this has also led to severe lack of focus and inferior quality work.
So whether you’re creating presentations, delivering one or even going about your other activities, can you still manage to be laser focused? Ask yourself these questions to find out:
Do you set priorities?
Despite the so many things you have or want to do, do you still take time to prioritize? Noting down the most important tasks to do unloads any pressure that may keep you from focusing. Here are ways to help you prioritize:
- Set a schedule and stick to it.
- Set clear, defined tasks. Put them into concrete steps so you don’t overwhelm yourself with vague details.
- Break large tasks into smaller ones. This will make things seem easier to start and ticking off each step out of the way recharges your focus and motivation.
Do you unplug?
While mobile phones, instant messengers, PDA’s, TV’s and other gadgets have made life easier, they have also decreased our attention span. You don’t have to do away with them completely though. Here are tips to help you unplug:
- At least for some areas, establish gadget-free zones where you can work.
- If gadgets are indispensable in your work, set a time period for distractions. For example, establish certain periods to return calls or emails instead of allowing them to distract you all day long.
Do you delay unnecessary worries?
Distractions aren’t just limited to external factors. They could also be coming from within. And while your worries may be necessary or logical, when they start to get in the way of your thinking, you also start to lose focus on the task at hand. As with gadgets, delay your worries or set a specific time for you to postpone these.
Do you create a suitable environment?
No matter how much you want yourself or your audience to focus, it’s hard to do so if you’re not within an appropriate environment. Here are ways to help you establish a more distraction-free surrounding:
- Avoid using the same area for both work and non-work related activities. For example, would you expect your audience to be more attentive if you gave your presentation in a cafeteria where they usually eat than in a conference room?
- Anticipate physical needs beforehand. Before giving or listening to presentations, prepare for any physical distractions like going to the bathroom beforehand, wearing comfortable clothes or setting the right room temperature.
- Maintain an organized environment. A cluttered surrounding easily gives way to a cluttered mindset as well.
Do you perform challenging tasks first?
When setting your schedule to prioritize, consider doing the harder ones first. Utilize the maximum energy and concentration you still have in the morning to perform tougher tasks before moving on to the easier tasks later within the day when your mind is less focused. Some additional tips:
- Take a breather. Have breaks to recharge your mind and get it back in focus.
- Get adequate rest. Studies suggest that majority of the time, inadequate sleep is the culprit for poor concentration.
Do you always multitask?
This is one question you should be answering ‘no’ to help you become more focused. While multitasking may seem like you’re saving time, this actually trains your mind for divided attention and fragmented thoughts instead of focused attention. Here’s a tip on how to start breaking this habit:
- Move away from a lifestyle of quantity and speed to a lifestyle of quality and accuracy. This allows you to more easily avoid the temptation of having to accomplish multiple but insignificant things simultaneously.
Do you find meaning or are you passionate in what you’re doing?
This is perhaps one of the most effective ways to get you in the zone. When you enjoy what you’re doing, it’s harder for any distractions to throw you off. To do this:
- Maintain a balance between interest and appropriate skill. You don’t want to have so much interest but not enough skill, leaving you frustrated. Neither do you want to have so much skill but not interest, leaving you bored. Having plenty of both is perfect to sustaining focus.
Do you ask help whenever needed?
Sometimes, all it takes is to seek assistance to get things moving than just being stuck on something, causing you to lose focus.
Find out which of these tips work most effectively to keep you laser focused. When making efforts to concentrate, likewise consider your or your audience’s processing style. Are you or they more of visual, audio or kinesthetic learners? Then adjust your environment accordingly.
What other habits do you practice to increase focus? Let us know through your comments below.