Public Speaking Course:
The term "brainstopper", which I made up in my public speaking
course, means something you say or do that causes the mind of an audience member
to stop and think about something. When this happens during a presentation most
often it is a bad thing. I catch students I am coaching delivering a
negative brainstopper. It is not good practice of what they learned in my public
For example, to use a good brainstopper, You could say something like,
"Take a moment and think about the first time you remember getting a
A statement like this would take the audience's minds back to a distant
memory. For most of the audience this will be a pleasant experience, even though
some may find it unpleasant. Either way you still are directing the show. You
will learn how to lead the audience and direct them to certain thoughts during
your public speaking course.
An example of a bad brainstopper is if you said, "That man's elocution
is impeccable." All of us brilliant minds and greatly educated people know
the word "elocution" means fine form in speaking or reading.
If you used this word in a less educated audience, the second it was
out of your mouth, the brains of the audience would be trying to figure out what
the word "elocution" means. Thus, you have created a brainstopper
because you used a word that was not easily understood by the audience. They
will not hear your next few sentences because they are still trying to figure
out what the word "elocution" means. Do this several times and they
will tune out altogether.
Another way to create a brainstopper is by distracting them by displaying an
unusual prop before explaining what it is. 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.
Examine your word choice and actions carefully before you perform on stage.
It is hard enough to keep the attention of you audience. Don't make it worse by
using bad brainstoppers. Carefully selected brainstoppers can be a good part of
your skills learned from your public speaking course.