I made this term up so don't try to find it anywhere else. A "brainstopper"
is something you say or do that causes the mind of an audience member to stop to
think. This can be a good thing, but most of the time when I catch a coaching
student delivering a brainstopper, it is a bad thing.
Here is an example of a good brainstopper. You might say, "Take a 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 it 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.
Here is an example of a bad brainstopper. You might say, "That man's
elocution is impeccable." For all of us highly educated and brilliant folks
the word "elocution" obviously means fine form in speaking or
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 stopped
because you used a word that was not easily understood. 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 they will 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 odd 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
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. Whenever
in doubt about using a brainstopper, it may be better for you not to use it in