Why Capturing Your Audience’s Attention Is All-Important

“Did the speaker first capture the audience’s attention?” This is perhaps the most critical coaching question we ask in our persuasive communications workshops. What’s the big deal? Well, it’s a noisy, “this one goes to eleven” world out there, and it’s only getting noisier. How are you going to be heard in that world?

If you can’t capture attention, you are unlikely ever to possess it no matter how long you present. However, if you can shift the audience’s attention to what you want them to focus on, you are well on your way to persuading them. The secret to the enormous leverage of holding attention is captured in a phenomenon known as “what’s focal is causal.” Dr. Robert Cialdini is the Michael Jordan of persuasion research and in his book “Pre-suasion” he explains that once we pay attention to something we over-value information related to it and what comes next. Let that sink in. We OVERVALUE what we are focusing on. In study after study, Robert Cialdini demonstrates that you are also more likely to ACT with that focus in mind.

If you have ever attended a timeshare presentation, you will be able to relate. Even while a part of your brain is screaming “DANGER WILL ROBINSON, DANGER!”, there’s another less cognitive more emotional place that’s saying, “Well, Orlando would be fun for the kids…and I could always give weeks away to friends and family.” If you are lucky enough to have a partner that helps you hold onto your checkbook in the pivotal moment, you are likely to feel extremely relieved that evening at dinner. Imagine how powerful this effect is when the underlying pitch holds real value for you.

When our attention is captured, it has a powerful causal effect. If you are trying to motivate someone to do something, you first have to capture their attention. In my next post, we’ll give you some good ways to do that.

At The Latimer Group, our individual Coaching services are highly customized and designed to help you achieve your specific goals. Typical engagements focus on developing skill sets in Leadership Communications, Public Speaking, and Executive-Level Business Presentations. To learn more, e-mail us at info@TheLatimerGroup.com


One response to “Why Capturing Your Audience’s Attention Is All-Important”

  1. John says:

    Dan: Good post. You have my attention now! John

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Dan Cooney

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.