“What’s in It for Me?”

Obama KidI absolutely love this picture that has been floating around the internet all week.

If you don’t know the background of this photo, a retiring U.S. Secret Service agent and his wife came to the White House to meet President Obama. Apparently their son was either bored or unamused because instead of marveling in the presence of the Commander-in-Chief, he face-plants onto the Oval Office’s couch.

Every single person in leadership, or wanting to be in leadership, should plaster this image in his or her head because it sums up what you have to do every time you prepare your next message or meeting—convince the audience why they should care.

What’s in it for them? Why should they have interest? Why should they “get off the couch” and join your conversation?

Imagine that every one who needs to receive your message is this little boy—buried into the couch, not invested in what you’re saying.

What are you going to say to catch his attention? How are you going to keep his attention once you have it? And how are you going to make your message so great that he runs off and shares it with others?

The days of force-feeding your ideas to others are long gone. If you have something to say, you have to be strategic in how you deliver it.

A good teacher, like a good entertainer, first must hold his audience’s attention, then he can teach his lesson. – John Henrik

You don’t have the audience’s attention just because you walked into the room, or joined the conference call, or passed out a handout—you have to earn it.

Practice the art of grabbing someone’s attention—through what you write and what you say.

I wouldn’t be so sure on solely basing your ability to captivate on your title and how high you are in your organization. You see how well that worked out for the President…

Hope Boyd
Written by:
Hope Boyd
Director of Communications, Strategic Government Resources

3 responses

  1. Great post. Lord knows I’ve felt like that little boy (in my mind) when coming to meetings or events. I think sometimes we miss the mark by thinking that by default people are going to listen, pay attention, retain information, etc. just by virtue of being present. Especially with some many distractions present in our environments that were not in years gone by. I’m talking about cell phones, tablets, social media….what meeting haven’t we been in when someone is constantly checking their phone or Ipad or getting up to take a call while we are mid-sentence…rushing out just before we close because of some other pressing matter. Lets just keep it real…people are distracted before they even get to the meeting so engaging and refocusing them as well as keeping their attention is critical. I think many struggle with the creativity to do this or be effective at it.

    1. Thanks, Enna!

      And you’re exactly right. These days, people are already distracted by the time they have to attend a meeting or listen to a presentation.

      It takes creativity and practice, but the art of getting and keeping someone’s attention is a must.

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