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How to get Someone's Attention & Keep it

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Fri, Dec 30, 2011 @ 03:27 PM

motivational speakerThanks to the addictive nature of web browsing, I have a very short attention span- possibly 10 seconds or less. With all the information flying at me I have developed ways to tune out the excess noise. Using gatekeepers like Tivo- I fast forward tv commercials, I am on several Do not Call Lists and use spam filters and  Pop up Blockers to keep out  unwanted distractions.

Apparently we have evolved a lot. As far back as I know society started as a Goods based economy, we evolved to be service based, next information was power, and more recently a knowledge and experience economy are apparently emerging.

Information is no longer powerful, it is a cheap (mostly free), easily accessible commodity. A scarce commodity is anything that not only gets our attention but keeps it. To engage and capture someones attention you basically have to hypnotise them into a state of flow.

Csikszentmihalyi's motivational theory talks about this state of flow as the mental state of operation where the person is completely energized and focused. A loss of self awareness results where a person is not focused inwardly. They become so involved in the environment and the activity that they give themself over to complete engagement.

This state of flow would be an amazing feat today with so much competing for our short attention span.

As a motivational speaker, I am always looking for ways to capture an audiences attention. Looking out at audiences that are increasingly overworked and distracted,  it's not as easy to be a motivational speaker as it was before- when simply sharing information was powerful.

Read.. Why Your Conference Needs A Humorous Motivational Speaker

For a message to be heard and remembered it has to be:

Attention Getting.

In a motivational talk I use all sort of things to get peoples attention: humor ( my favorite), analogies, interaction, even research. The more vivid and relevant the approach the better.


Once you have someones attention, you have to keep it.  To hold someone captive longer than 10 seconds they must lose themself in your message.  They must step outside of their own inward limited view, forget about their problems for a moment (similar to Csikszentmihalyi's loss of self awareness) and be absorbed. Complete captivation involves slowing down time and getting lost in the moment.

Relevant and Timely.

Consumers are continually bombarded with information, much of it irrelevant. If it doesn't answer their problems or address a need right now, it will be ignored.

Read, Why a Motivational Speaker Bombs



Tags: motivational speaker, motivational talk, how to get someone's attention

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