Monday, May 9, 2011

Attention Points

Attention Points are credits you get or lose from the audience. There are many ways to earn them and many ways to lose them. When you speak, your audience is giving you two of their most important resources - time and attention. Take this fact seriously and learn to respect it, leverage it and make the most of both. You can't tell them, demand them, expect them or assume they will give you their attention. You must earn it. Following are the short lists of methods for earning and losing Attention Points...

Earning Methods

  • Your Professional Title
  • Your Life Accomplishments
  • Your Life Story
  • Likeability
  • Audience Interaction
  • Telling Stories They Relate With
  • Heart-filled Content
  • Compelling Data
  • Inherently Necessary Info (ex. How to exit a burning building)
  • Shocking Content
  • Hilarious Content
  • Authenticity
  • Humility
  • Brevity

Losing Methods

  • Be Mean
  • Be Boring
  • Be Dry
  • Be Lengthy
  • Be Presumptuous
  • Be Inappropriate
  • Be Dishonest
  • Be Predictable
  • Be Overly Repetitive
  • Use Someone Else's Material
  • Use Outdated or Overused Quotes, Stories, Jokes or Data Points

If you are thinking "I am naturally dry" or "I have to give lengthy presentations", that's ok. You just need to implement more of the Earning Methods to get your Attention Points account into the black.

Good luck and email me if you need more detail or have a specific situation or presentation you need help with - rhett (at)


Andrew Bryant, CSP PCC said...

Good Post. I would only add a caveat that professional title and life accomplishments can be overdone and create a withdrawal of points.

Rhett Laubach said...

Agreed. Every great speaker uses a mixture of all of these. The weight of importance applied to each is a function of audience type, mood of the audience, mood of the event, expectations of the audience, time of day, room set-up, etc.

Matt said...

So funny that you posted this today, I just gave this same speech to my students in AP English. They have to create an argument to get rid of one of our states. With one exception, there was a group that did very well, the rest were dry, boring and read like laundry lists. So, we did a quick debrief and they went back to the drawing board.

I would also add, beware of ppt's. I know you have done stuff on this before, but a good ppt, or bad one, can have a huge impact as well.