In 2015, Time magazine famously released an article that stated the average person’s attention span had shrunk nearly 25% in just a few years. It referenced an earlier study that found the average human being had the attention span of a goldfish (nine seconds). The study was alerting the world that humans’ attention span had dropped and was now only eight seconds.
Eight seconds isn’t a lot of time to catch someone’s attention. Beyond the loss of attention span, in general, business professionals are increasingly engaging in multi-tasking, whether they are working multiple video displays at once or attempting to talk on the phone while participating in a Zoom call.
So, how can you catch their attention? One crucial success factor is to announce through your marketing efforts that the presentation, talk, meeting, etc. will be BRIEF. Words like that are triggers that let the attendee know their time won’t be wasted. If you use such words, ensure your presentation meets the publicized criteria. Furthermore, let them know what they will receive in exchange for their time.
Here are a few examples of email subject lines that meet this criteria:
“Give us 15 minutes of your time and learn how to regain an hour of time, each day!”
“In 20 minutes, we can show you how to boost your corporate profitability by up to 25%!”
Note that both of these example have a stated time frame and a benefit to be derived from expending it.
Now That You Have Their Attention…
Once you gain your audience’s attention, be sure you not only follow through on your promise, but also that you keep their attention. Following are a few tips that can help do that.
Share the Good News
In marketing materials for your talk, whether you are running an email campaign or promoting sign-ups on your website, it’s important that your subject line or headline identifies a problem or issue and promises a solution.
The most compelling presentations often start with the words “how,” as in “How Great Leaders Inspire Their Teams.” Areas of interest proven to garner attention include leadership secrets, performance enhancements — not only professional but also life, time management, etc.
Be Persuasive, yet Honest
Once you catch your audience’s attention, ensure they stay engaged. One of the best ways to do this is to be persuasive in a genuine manner. For this effort, consider taking your cues from ancient Greek experts.
Well before the advent of business presentations, the Greeks had already mastered the art of oratory. Aristotle, in particular, was a noted authority on the subject. He identified three modes of persuasion: ethos, pathos and logos.
- Ethos essentially equals ethics. It requires the speaker to establish credibility with the audience, perhaps by making references to experience or success in the relevant field.
- Pathos ties in with the listener’s emotions. Noted speakers who used pathos effectively included Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy.
- Logos is an appeal to reason and logic. For organizations presenting a pitch to their audience, whether it is a presentation or an online video, logos will be a key component.
Ethos is a given, but the mixture of pathos and logos will vary based upon the subject matter. Nevertheless, the best speakers meld all three elements.
Condense Your Material Effectively
If you are going to keep a presentation to 20 minutes or fewer, you don’t have a lot of time to engage your audience, introduce your topic, make your main points, and drive your message home. If you waste any time by digressing or get off-topic you will not only frustrate your audience; you will also reduce the effectiveness of your talk.
Keep in mind that your talk doesn’t need to cover every aspect of your subject. The goal is to introduce your position, make a key point that will engage your audience and entice them to learn more.
Repetition Builds Reassurance
Last, but certainly not least, learn from others. One of the most well-known, short-form talks is a TED Talk. You can view them online to watch some true pros at work. Afterward, give us a call. We have helped many of our clients produce short-form talks that led to new business opportunities and more closed sales.
This post is courtesy of MMC Content Manager Jennifer Farwell