Don’t Make People “Change the Channel”

The world I grew up in and the world my kids are growing up in are vastly different. And I’m not even that old… at least that is what I say to myself every day! When I was a kid, there was no cable TV, no internet, no streaming content… We had five channels, and you watched what was on, commercials and all. When the show was over, you watched what was on next, or you turned the TV off and did something else. My kids, on the other hand, certainly know what commercials are, but only in a context of “that thing you fast forward through so you can keep watching.” All the content they consume is streamed over the internet, which means they can watch the next episode immediately afterwards. If they don’t like the show, they switch to something else… immediately. It is a dramatically different world, and our relationship with content is forever changed, because there is an unlimited amount available.

This is the world that we now exist in, and in which we must try to capture and maintain attention. So, when we communicate in the workplace, we have to think differently. We have to make conscious choices about how we are going to capture attention… about how we are going to get to the point quickly, and make sure the point is valuable and interesting. Our professional audience is conditioned to “change the channel” on things they don’t like quickly. The concept of “captive audience” still exists, but it doesn’t last nearly as long. While they may be captive in their seats for the whole meeting, they are not captive in their minds for very long. We have to constantly earn, and keep, our audience’s attention.

In our work, we see far too many people who have yet to grasp the implications of the on-demand content world. We see many who communicate as if they are still living in a you-have-no-other-choice-but-to-listen-to-me world. The choices are limitless and the behaviors towards content and the capacity of attention spans are forever changed.

How will you react to this not-so-new world? Because if you are like many of the people we meet, you haven’t reacted yet.

Have a great day!

Does your team:
– Take too long to make decision?
– Fail to ask for what it wants or needs from you?
– Make things too complicated?
– Deliver unconvincing or disorganized presentations?
– Have new hires who are unprepared to communicate in the workplace?

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2 responses to “Don’t Make People “Change the Channel””

  1. Robert says:

    What are some practical tips you can share to keep our audience from “changing the channel” during the communication? How do we help our audience remember what we said? How do we remind our audience afterwards to take action on what we said?

    • Dean Brenner says:

      Great question, Robert.
      1. Get to the point quickly. The quicker they are ABLE to change the channel, the quicker you need to make them want to not change it.
      2. Make it about them, solving problems they care about, issues that are important to them.
      3. Be easy to listen to. Make your message clear, and even entertaining (to a point).
      Hope this helps!

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Dean Brenner

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.