“Are you paying attention?”
This is what my parents always used to say when I was a child. “Yea sure Mom,” I’d answer. But in reality I wasn’t paying them any attention. I was preoccupied in my own little world. This drove my parent’s crazy. Which made me a proud beastie of a son. (Aren’t you glad I wasn’t your kid?)
Do you sometimes find it difficult to GET the attention of others?
Is it a challenge to HOLD people’s attention at times?
Whatever role you are playing in business, getting attention is absolutely critical. In many cases getting the favorable attention of customers, prospects, employees, team members, strategic partners, investors and stockholders can be the difference between winning and losing.
In spite of this, few recognize that attention can be managed like other precious resources. How? Now that I have your attention, I will get to that shortly. In order for us to fully understand this concept, let’s first look at the types of attention:
Front-of-Mind AttentionThis is the kind of attention that is demanded when we are writing a report, engaged in a business discussion, making a purchase or conducting a transaction. It is conscious, focused and explicit attention.
While you may be engaging your conscious through these front-of-mind attentions you are also using your back-of-mind attention to filter through all kinds of thoughts such as a spouse or friend, a shopping list and an upcoming vacation.
Captive AttentionThese are things we MUST give our attention simply because we have no choice. They include cinema advertising, work assignments, poor weather, our boss’s crummy jokes and so on.
Voluntary AttentionThese are things we CHOOSE to pay attention to like TV/print advertising, hobbies, glancing through a magazine. These are typically less explicit stimuli.
Attractive and Adverse AttentionThese are things that stand out among the typical experiences in our day. Attractive attention stimuli includes seeing an attractive women or man pass by, a shooting star, a rainbow or a dolphin frolicking in the waves. Adverse attention stimuli includes seeing a car accident, a highly unattractive person, getting bad news.
The ultimate attention-getter draws on all five types of attention simultaneously. These are experiences that characterize the most intensely rewarding and enjoyable moments of our lives. Think of extreme sports like skydiving, hang gliding, scuba diving, rock climbing. These use all 5 of the areas of attention focused on one activity. It seem that what people really love is to have every area of their attention totally saturated.
How can you saturate your audience’s attention? What can you do to get their “Front-of-mind” working, stimulate their “Back-of-mind” attention, “Captivate” them, get them to “Voluntarily” give you their attention and stimulate both their adverse and attractive attentions?
How to Get and Keep a Person’s Attention
Here are some great tips on how to get and keep a person’s attention regardless of your circumstances:
- Make a change – One way to keep attention over time is to make changes. This is true for employee management, advertising, web media, public speaking and even relationships. Make changes to your content, format, tone, and involvement level in order to keep people more interested.
- Tell a story – We stay in movies and finish novels because we want to find out what happens to the characters in the story. Give your audience a story and they’ll stay with you.
- Keep it real – Informational messages that are lifelike and realistic are more likely to keep attention than those that are not.
- Don’t stop – If you have an audience’s attention already you have a good chance of moving to the next topic or location without losing them. Don’t let your written or spoken messages drag.
- Alter the flow – The most successful attention- structure tools hold our attention long enough to give a message but also make it easy for us to change the informational context. Look at the most successful web sites for example.
There is no doubt that we live an in age of information overload and attention deficit. This is why relationships are so important today. Use the above guidelines to get more favorable attention in your written and spoken messages, advertising, marketing, personal and business encounters. This will help you to build stronger relationships and offer more value to your clients, team members and personal associates.