Case-Discussion: Environment Distractions

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Case-Discussion: Environment Distractions

Case-Discussion: Environment Distractions

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Week 6 discussion Distractors in our Environment Distractions are everywhere. They may include cellphones, the alarms sounding for multiple different reasons, overhead paging, monitors beeping, and staff interrupting our thoughts. Give an example of an ethical or legal issue that may arise if a patient has a poor outcome or sentinel event because of a distraction such as alarm fatigue. What does evidence reveal about alarm fatigue and distraction when it comes to patient safety?

In the courses that we run, we give a short presentation, and then ask the course participants to complete an exercise based on what we’ve said. When we first started out, we often found that as soon as we got participants started on the exercise, somebody would say “What am I supposed to do here?” We’d said it, but the participant hadn’t got it. We’ve got good at ensuring that participants get it by eliminating distractions.

The human brain is great at getting distracted. We work hard to stay focused but stray thoughts are coming into our minds all the time. This will happen despite your best efforts as a presenter – but you can help reduce the stray thoughts by eliminating distractions. Distractions are anything that cause a person in your audience to think about something different than what you are saying at that moment.

There are two causes of distractions:

environmental distractions, and
what you say and what you show.
I’ll cover environmental distractions in this post, and “What you say and what you show” in Part 2 tomorrow.

Environmental distractions
1. Physical comfort
It’s very hard to focus on a speaker when you’re not physically comfortable. Here are some things to check:

Room at the right temperature – not too cold, not too hot.
Frequent toilet breaks – you can’t concentrate with a full bladder (if you’re presenting after a refreshment break, I wouldn’t go longer than half-an-hour before offering a micro-break).
Lighting – check that nobody is suffering from sun in their eyes.
Hunger – if you’re hungry you start focusing on when lunch is going to be. Let your audience know so that they can relax knowing that food will be available soon. Don’t keep going past the time of the scheduled lunch break or tea break – people won’t be listening to you anyway!
2. Hot buttons
Some people get annoyed by little things and then they fixate on them. And stop listening to you.

A repetitive phrase – there’s a presenter on Radio New Zealand who constantly uses the phrase “if you like” when she’s interviewing people. If I don’t make an effort to focus on the substance of the discussion, I’m distracted by that phrase. A common issue is to say “OK” at the end of a sentence. You may not be aware that you have a repetitive phrase so ask an honest but compassionate friend to let you know – or video yourself. Bert Decker has a post on using video feedback to change verbal habits.
A repetitive gesture. For example, some men (it does just seem to be men) have a “policeman’s hop” – they rock backwards and forwards on their heels. Again call on that friend or the video to become aware of these.
Anything jangling as you move – keys, coins in pockets, jangly earrings or necklaces. If you’re wearing a lapel microphone, remove any necklaces so that they don’t bang into it.
And a different kind of hot button – women – if you look  toooo good, the men in the audience will get distracted.

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