This week I was conducting a workshop for grantees throughout New York, to help them ensure their messages stand out. Afterwards, several participants spoke with me about their specific communication needs.

Among them was a person who is also a teacher. The dilemma presented to me was how to get the attention of noisy students since this person felt yelling was the only viable answer. I listened intently and then shared the following points:

1. Yelling is a form of vocal abuse and ultimately damages your vocal cords.
2. Yelling doesn’t always have the desired effect on your listeners.
3. Yelling means the speaker isn’t effectively getting or keeping the listener’s attention and warrants an alternative.
Instead of yelling the speaker can…
4. Discontinue speaking, since silence is one way of demonstrating change.
5. Move physically closer to those who are talking or noisy, since closer proximity often works well in getting attention.
6. Address the inattentive person by name which often helps to refocus and redirect.
7. Very lightly reach out and tap the forearm of the person you wish to quiet.
8. Change tasks and interject an interactive exercise or stretch break to help the audience settle down.

When your target audience is speaking to one another vs. listening to you, it’s a signal to which you want to pay close attention. It may mean your audience is distracted, confused, bored or stimulated. It requires that you respond in a different manner but first try to discern the root cause.

Other than in an emergency…yelling isn’t a viable answer and certainly won’t get you heard.

Please let me know your thoughts since I always welcome your input.