Communication Barriers

In the spirit of full disclosure, yes, I do have finger nails, and yes, they do make a tapping noise on the keys when I’m working. I apologize for that and I try to work as quietly as I can. I get lost in what I’m doing sometimes and forget that the sound of my keys does not make what I’m doing any better or worse.

With that being said, I was at a conference recently and sat next to someone who was using their laptop. Okay, fine, lots of people were. However, I have no idea how her keyboard has survived. She wasn’t just tapping against the plastic with her nails (again, like I do) but banging against the keys with her fingers so hard I could hear the plastic begging for help. Frankly, I was surprised she didn’t use her elbow to hit the space bar and just put the thing out of its misery. I wasn’t the only person who thought she was being disruptive, a few other people in the room were giving her sideways glances, and since I was at the perfect angle, I took a peek at her screen.

She wasn’t taking notes. She was working on something else completely. I can’t understand being that disruptive and not even paying attention. Not only was she disrupting some of the audience, but I can’t imagine how she wasn’t disrupting some of the guest speakers too. There are a lot of barriers in communication that can come up no matter if you’re speaking to one person or a thousand. Here are a few of the most common and how you can overcome them.

  1. Selves – Effective speakers know that a “me” focus turns off an audience. An audience wants to hear how what you know will benefit them. Sure, tell stories, but engage your audience with personal experience. Remember to always focus it back to them and how they can apply it in their business.
  2. Environment – One of the quickest ways to lose your excitement about speaking is to be in a bad set up or venue. Check out your set up before taking the stage to see if you’re comfortable. If there is something that doesn’t feel quite right, like the arrangement of the chairs in the room, you can go ahead and rearrange or prepare yourself for that.
  3. Noise – All noises can cause a distraction during a presentation. On a conference call you can easily mute the entire audience with a click of a button, but dealing with a face to face audience can offer more challenges. You can politely express that they turn off their laptops and communication devices, but we all know not everyone is going to do that. You have two choices when it comes to laptops and cell phones during a presentation – ignore it or embrace it.

As a speaker, it’s important to remember the barriers of communication and how to break through them. What barriers have you come up against and how do you get through them? And remember – your keyboard never did anything to you. Try not to hurt it.