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Home » Developing the Speaker Within You: Sleepy Audiences

Developing the Speaker Within You: Sleepy Audiences

One of the most difficult things a speaker has to contend with is to speak mid afternoon, or in the graveyard shift as some refer to it. There are few more disconcerting sights than standing before an audience studying their body language, as speakers do, and seeing some of them yawning or dozing with eyes closed and heads drooping.

Contrary to popular opinion, this is usually has nothing to do with the captivating nature of our address, or the lack of. Nor has it anything to do with what we just ate for lunch.

OK, many people think that if they have just had a heavy lunch it will make them sleepy. The science of this will disagree. It is true that some foods do contain natural Tryptophan that can lead to some drowsiness, but these effects are generally overstated.

The prime culprit for giving us a sleepy audience is not what we ate, how old we are or our gender and so forth, but is a natural function of our bodies called the Circadian Rhythm. Every human on the planet has this inbuilt cycle, often referred to as the Body Clock that runs on an approximate 24 hour cycle. It is hard-wired, and cannot be disconnected.

All of us have a natural sleep/wakefulness cycle that makes us sleepy during the early hours of the morning, and to a lesser but measurable extent in the early afternoon, say between 2:00 PM & 4:00 PM. This impairment of our alertness, the Post Lunch Dip as it is sometimes referred to is a very real occurrence that affects us all. All of us at some time experience bouts of sleepiness during the early to mid afternoon. Many people around the world in fact customarily have a siesta during this time.

This is where our problems as a speaker begin to cause trouble.

If our appointed time slot to speak spans this period, we are slot resmi presented with an audience that is inherently disposed to nodding off to sleep. At best, the audience’ alertness levels are compromised leaving us struggling to maintain interest, and not being able to get our message across.

Prevention is better than cure, so what can we do to mitigate these risks and problems?

    • First, try to avoid the highest risk times to speak
  • Not many speakers do this, but when asked to speak at an event, reply early and ask the organizer to schedule a time slot late morning. The best time is immediately after morning tea, or just before lunch. It is surprising how many organizers are only too pleased to work in with a speakers preference if asked. As the old saying goes you have not because you ask not.