Speaking to a Group? 3 Must-Dos to Battle Second-Screens

We live in a world of second-screen viewing. As a result gaining and sustaining an audience's attention has become a formidable challenge. Here are methods you can employ to keep the focus on you.

Mark MacDonald  ·  May 4, 2017

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I’m blessed to communicate with live audiences at least once a week: At an adult Bible Study presenting a simple Bible lesson for 45 minutes, at a conference for several hours, for quick workshops or at church leadership sessions; I’m amazed how people hire me to share knowledge.

I never want to take it for granted.

Like my rule of always being on time, I never want to waste anyone’s time. Ever.

We’ve all waited in groups with the anticipation of someone talking and sharing.

There’s an energy that the audience gets while waiting — like getting excited for a good TV show, a concert, or a play.

At the same time, as a speaker, I draw on the energy of the crowd. The more anticipation I feel, the more I want to deliver.

It’s like a drug. And since I’m a church speaker, it’s like an over-the-counter (podium?) drug, of course.

And now, we live in a world of second-screen viewing. It’s our competition. Most people can’t even sit during a TV show and concentrate on just the show. We all have a small screen in our lap that grabs our attention and allows us to scroll for additional information or entertainment.

Before I speak, it’s fascinating to watch how much digital viewing is going on.

Still, we expect that when we get up in front of an audience, and start talking everyone will put their mobile device down? Probably not.

But, rather than think of it as a problem, I like to think of it as a gauge to my effectiveness. I want to do whatever I can to keep people from engaging outside of the room. You can do this too.

Here are 3 must-dos in order to battle second-screen temptations:

1. Know your audience.

Know their expectations and needs. Offer them solutions, but before you do, tell a story that accentuates their pain, concerns, and goals. That way they understand you’re speaking to them and understand them. Talk directly to individuals like it’s just you and them. You care about them, and if they pay attention, you will take them on a ride that will end at a solution.

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Mark MacDonald
Is a Bible Teacher, speaker, best-selling author of Be Known For Something, and communication strategist for and the 3000+ churches of the Florida Baptist Convention. He empowers churches to become known for something relevant (a communication thread) throughout their ministries, websites, and social media. His book is available at and
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