I made up this term to define what happens sometimes during a presentation
that can add or subtract the attention of your audience. A "brainstopper"
is something you say or do that causes the mind of an audience member
to stop and think, not necessarily about the point your trying to make.
Most of the time when during a public speaking course I catch a student delivering a
it's a bad thing and not good practice of what they have learned.
Here is an example of a good brainstopper. You might say, "Take
moment and think about the first toy you had as a child."
A command like this would take the audience member's mind from where
is now to a time long ago. For most of the audience this will be a
pleasant experience. For some it may be unpleasant. Either way you
still are directing the show. You might do this to make some kind of
point about how simple things used to please us, or something like
that. You will learn how to lead the audience in this way during your
public speaking course.
Here is an example of a bad brainstopper. You might say, "That
elocution is impeccable." For all of us highly educated and brilliant
folks the word "elocution" obviously means fine form in speaking
You know if this word was used in a less educated arena, the instant it came out of your mouth,
the brains of the audience members would be racing to figure out what
the word "elocution" means. Thus, their brains have essentially
stopped because you
used a word that was not easily comprehended. The audience member will
not hear your next few sentences because they are still trying to
figure out the word "elocution." Do this several times and
tune out altogether ... unless of course you are Deepak Chopra who gets
high praise for being totally unintelligible. hahahahaha
Another way to stop someone's brain is to distract them by your
actions. You might display an unusual prop before explaining what it
This would make an audience member stop listening while their minds
tried to figure out what the prop is. If you were talking during this
time, they wouldn't hear a word you said.
Look at your word choice and actions carefully before you exhibit them
on stage. It is hard enough to keep attention in today's short
attention span environments. Don't make it worse by using bad
brainstoppers. Carefully selected and cleverly used brainstoppers can
be a good part of your skills learned from your public speaking
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