Contemporary culture is more impatient, distracted, and disconnected than ever before. In Got Your Attention?, Sam Horn demonstrates how to earn the attention and trust of coworkers, decision makers, or potential
WHAT IS THE INTRIGUE APPROACH?
In a culture where distraction and alienation are pervasive, people must master the art of connection to get their ideas funded, be considered for a job or promotion, or gain the buy-in necessary for a new initiative. Horn’s INTRIGUE approach provides direction and a set of practical techniques for connecting with others. Each letter of the INTRIGUE acronym corresponds to one feature necessary to create the connection that is at the heart of effective, mutually rewarding communication.
If people are not interested and engaged within the first minute of an interaction, they have mentally checked out. Therefore, it is vital to create an introduction that draws people in immediately. When introducing themselves, pitching an idea, or giving a keynote, people should employ one or more of the following techniques:
* Asking “Did you know ?” questions: A surefire introduction that immediately captures people’s attention has three parts: (1) two or three “Did you know ?” questions that contain surprising facts related to the topic; (2) an “Imagine if there was ” statement that relates to those facts; and (3) a concluding statement, such as “You don’t have to imagine it.
We’ve already created it.”
* Showing, asking, and involving: Audiences are drawn in by props or demonstrations, which help them visualize a problem and want to hear how the speaker can solve it. Questions such as, “Have you ever ?” or “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if ?” are excellent follow-ups to a visual demonstration.
* Sharing something rare: Too often speakers lose their audiences’ interest because they have not demonstrated what makes their pitches unique.
What is rare is intriguing; people want to hear what sets an organization or a person apart.
* Saying “no” first, and turning it into a “yes”: When a speaker fears the audience is already thinking “no” before the speaker has even begun, his or her introduction will be stronger by acknowledging this. For instance, a speaker might lead with, “I know you have said no before, but here is what has changed.”
* Seeing communication as a sport: People can prepare for important communications much like athletes prepare for competitions, for example by rehearsing a talk while walking, visiting an event site ahead of time, practicing a “towering” rather than “cowering” posture, or having a mantra that inspires confidence and an expectation of success.
Speakers can offer valid or important information, but this alone does not make that information intriguing to listeners. People should use the following strategies to transform how they normally frame or deliver information and make it new:
* The seven Ps of disruption: This is a brainstorming tool to help people break through their status quo and uncover something new that will attract decision makers and customers. It is a simple series of seven questions:
Purpose: What is the goal? What equals success?
Person: Who is the target client or decision maker?
Problem: What frustrations does this person have?
Premise: Why are things one way and not another? What if there were a different, better way?
Product: What is a more effective, rewarding, appealing, or profitable approach to the status quo?
Promise: What can be promised so the audience is comfortable with what is new?
POP: What is an intriguing name or title that will make it stand out?
* Using current events and references: Some tried-and-true examples, quotes, and references have been repeated so many times they have lost their intrigue. Quotes from current thought leaders and connections to or commentary on current events are better ways to make a point, for these are what customers, coworkers, investors, and others are already paying attention to.
* Finding new perspectives: Sometimes people discover something new and intriguing when they take a step back and imagine they are looking at the world as if for the first time. Taking time to wonder at ordinary moments can lead to extraordinary realizations.
* Hooking and hinging with humor: Humor not only captures people’s attention but it can trigger new insights. Speakers can use a “hook and hinge” approach that employs humor to make a point. For instance, the point of a funny story might be to have fun with a situation instead of allowing it to cause frustration (the hook). This can then be hinged to a “you question” such as, “Are you sensitive about something? Why not be amused with, rather than combative and annoyed by, the situation?”
When people approach most interactions, they are immediately thinking, “How long will this take?” Speakers have to prove to the people before them that the interaction is a good use of their time. A key way to win the trust and attention of others is to respect their time by being concise and time-efficient. Simple but surprisingly powerful techniques people can use to be more time-efficient include:
* Asking for a specific amount of time. “Can I have 20 minutes of your time?” creates a boundary and acknowledges the value of the other person’s time. It also ensures that the designated time is spent productively and with the person’s full attention.
* Surprising people by using less time than requested. Most businesspeople are always pressed for time and they are more likely to work with those who can use it efficiently.
* Setting personal limits on email length, meeting times, and all communications. People are more likely to get and hold the attention of others when they personally limit the length of all their communications; this also forces them to get to the point faster every time.
If people do not remember anything a speaker has said, then the speaker’s message had no impact. People need to be intrigued enough to share what they heard with others. To ensure that their message stays top-of-mind, speakers need to include a phrase-that-pays.
Such a phrase is easily repeatable, succinctly sums up the core message, resonates with others, and could be “merchandized and monetized” for future financial gain. The following five strategies can help speakers craft an effective phrase-that-pays:
Distill: The core message or call to action should be condensed into eight or fewer words. What do people want their audiences to feel, say, do, or remember?
Rhythm: Words should have a rhythm that makes them easily repeatable.
For instance, the iconic slogan “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” was successful because it had a memorable rhythm and people naturally shared it with others.
3. Alliteration: A series of words that begin with the same sound are also easier for people to remember (e.g., Java Jackets; LuluLemon; Bed, Bath & Beyond).
4. Rhyme: Another effective memory aid is for words to rhyme. For example, the government’s “Click It or Ticket” campaign was more effective than “Buckle Up for Safety.”
5. Pause and punch: When a speaker pauses right before the phrase and then slowly articulates each syllable of it-the punch-he or she has spotlighted what listeners should remember. Some effective phrases to lead into the pause and punch are, “The most important thing I have learned is ” or “If you remember anything from today, I hope it is this.”
When people interact with technology today, they seldom do so passively.
They write reviews, post to social media, share tips on forums, personalize radio stations, and more. They do not simply want to receive information, they want opportunities for two-way interaction. It is no surprise, then, that the traditional one-way communication of most presentations and meetings fills people with dread or boredom. Businesspeople need to abandon elevator speeches and standard meeting procedures and create opportunities for more intriguing and valuable two-way interactions. The following techniques can help them do so:
* Avoid standard openers and responses. Instead of asking others traditional, “What do you do?” openers, people can ask questions that will elicit more interesting answers, such as, “What project are you most excited about right now?” or “What do you love to do on weekends?” If, in turn, the speaker is asked the standard “What do you do?” question, he or she can begin a dialogue by asking a three-part question and then providing real-world examples of the impact of his or her job. For example, “Have you, a friend, or a family member ever had an MRI or CT scan?” is a three-part question that makes a connection between the listener and the speaker’s occupation. When the speaker follows up with, “I run the medical facilities that offer MRIs, like the one you/your friend/your family member had,” he or she has created a springboard for further intriguing conversation.
* Ask for advice. A surefire way to create interactions is to ask others for their opinions or suggestions. People are eager to share their expertise and feel valued when others request it.
* Begin sentences with, “Tell me ” Questions such as, “Did you enjoy the conference?” are a dead end. In contrast, “Tell me about your experience at the conference,” opens up an opportunity for interaction.
* “Turn back” rather than “take back.” Often, when people are listening to others speak, they are merely waiting for an opportunity to “take back” the conversation. For instance, after a coworker has finished a story about the Chamber of Commerce meeting, most people’s tendency is to respond with, “Last time I was at a Chamber meeting I ran into ” and return the attention to them. A better response would be to turn the conversation back to the speaker, for instance by responding with, “What are the Chamber’s major goals this year?”
Intriguing people is not just about getting their attention; it is about giving them attention. People need to stop focusing on pitching and instead develop empathy. The acronym LISTEN outlines how to start listening to make valuable and lasting relationships:
* Looking, lifting, and leaning: Good listening begins with attention to body language. Listeners should look completely at the speaker, lift their eyebrows slightly, and lean forward a bit to convey interest and eagerness.
* Ignoring everything else: True listening is not a multitasking exercise.
Listeners need to avoid looking at their phones, checking their computers, glancing around at others, and any activity that signals they are not giving the speaker their full attention.
* Suspending judgment: When people have worked together for some time, they may pigeonhole one another or assume they know what another is going to say in advance. Good listening requires holding back on assumptions and not conflating what a person said last time with what he or she might be about to say.
* Taking notes: To make offering undivided attention easier and more rewarding, a person could take notes intermittently when listening. This shows the speaker that the other person is listening, gives the listener a record of key points, and highlights springboards for future conversations.
* Empathizing: When listeners ask themselves, “How would I feel if ?” they put themselves in the speaker’s position. Listeners may begin to understand the speaker’s behavior or opinion even if they do not like it.
* No”buts”: When a person offers feedback and follows it with the word “but,” he or she effectively undoes whatever positive comment was made.
For example, “I know this is important to you, but ” or, “You did a wonderful job, but ” is not affirming; instead it creates an argumentative tone. Substituting “and” for “but” acknowledges the preceding positive comment.
Unless a person remembers and acts on what a speaker says, the speaker’s words have had no real impact. An effective message prods people away from passive observation (e.g., “I understand what they are saying”) to action (e.g., “I am going to do something about this.”) Top strategies for leading people toward action include:
* Taking concepts out of the theoretical and abstract: Without concrete examples about how to carry out theoretical ideas (“Be sure to make customers feel welcome”), most people will fall short of expectations.
Rather than hearing ideas or definitions, people need suggestions for action (e.g., “If you are on the phone with another customer, say ”).
* Creating urgency and gravitas: People hear appeals for attention, money, and action all the time; they need to know why the current speaker needs them to act now. For instance, saying that “Autism is on the rise” does not create as much urgency to act as “There has been an almost 80 percent increase in autism in just 10 years. This is an epidemic we need to address.”
* Using visual or physical involvement to trigger an epiphany: To help people understand why something has relevance for them, speakers can ask the audience to “Raise your hand if you have ” or “Stand up if ” This creates a powerful visual realization for listeners who may have thought a topic did not require action on their part.
* Using “Have you ever ?” phrases to make connections: Just as people should turn back more conversations than they take, a speaker should at some point turn back to the audience’s point of view. “Have you ever ?” phrases help listeners make the connection from a speaker’s story or example to their own lives.
* Ending on a strong note for active follow-up: Too many people finish conference talks, interviews, or emails with a standard, unmemorable closing, such as “Thank you for your time,” that does not prompt any action. A stronger closing includes a reminder of the speaker’s name and a unique attribute (e.g., “Ask for Brooke, the only product advisor with red hair ”), a set of possible actions, (e.g., “You can meet me at 2:30 in our booth ”), and reasons people might take those actions, (e.g., “At our booth, you can watch a product demonstration ”).
One of the best ways to intrigue and connect with others is to use real-life examples. Examples cause people to feel and empathize; explanations do not. The acronym SCENE can help people remember how to make their main point come to life and influence listeners authentically:
* Sensory detail: Details about how a place looked, sounded, or so on can help listeners feel like they are there.
* Conflict: Strong examples typically have some element of conflict or challenge that was overcome or resolved. Listeners want to hear the transformation the individual went through.
* Experience it: To connect with the audience, the speaker needs to feel the emotions he or she wants the audience to experience.
* Narrative: Persuasive examples are narrative; they draw people in the way a good novel or movie does. When appropriate, back-and-forth dialogue can further help a scene come to life.
* Epiphany: Speakers need to highlight the “aha!” moment, lesson learned, or redemptive ending that creates an epiphany for the audience before connecting a story to listeners’ experiences.
Becoming intriguing and expanding one’s influence is most effective when it is done out of a desire to do good, serve others, and share expertise. By putting the concepts of INTRIGUE into practice, people will be able to connect with anyone, anywhere, and at any time.