I was excited to read Sam Horn’s new book Got Your Attention?: How to Create Intrigue and Connect with Anyone. I have been a fan and follower for years, after reading her book POP and with her latest book, she doesn’t disappoint. And full disclosure, she is also my keynote speaker at my May 26 conference so I was keen to read what she had to say.
As she observes, we live in a time of instant gratification, with little patience for anything that may take longer than a few minutes to grab our attention. She also questions whether we are really listening, a dying art, yet one that can win people over faster than anything.
In this book Sam walks her talk. She’s intentionally made each chapter only ten pages long because she knows how easy it can be to lose your reader’s interest. In fact her rule of ten pages made her, she confesses, be more succinct in what she had to say. “Truth is, as important as something may seem, people don’t miss it if we don’t put it in.” Something to remember as we write or deliver speeches.
Sam uses the word INTRIGUE as an acronym for her message and there is so much wisdom in what she has to say, that it’s hard to synthesize down to my key takeaways.
We need to change how we communicate to get attention
"What does it take to really connect with people in a culture of impatience and alienation? Well, there has to be two-way attention for our interactions to be mutually rewarding. How do we do that? We stop trying to get attention and start giving attention."
This statement summarizes the gist of the book as Sam gives pointers and information on how we can improve our communication with each other – through our presentations, meetings, networking and written material.
To those of us who believe networking is about building relationships rather than the quick sales pitch, she is reinforcing what we’ve always thought.
She also denounces elevator pitches (yeah) and provides the wording and strategies to change our approach when we meet someone for the first time and they ask us what we do.
One example she gives at the beginning of the book is of the founder of PharmaJet who would get too technical in her pitches to investors. Instead, Sam encouraged her to start her presentation with three questions like Did you know that… followed quickly by three solutions… and imagine if there was… Using this strategy, she held their attention and they wanted to know more, whereas before their eyes would almost immediately glaze over.
Sometimes to get attention, you have to actually show people what you mean, just as one entrepreneur did when she was looking for funding for her invention. She brought along props to demonstrate how it worked and why it was needed.
To create INTRIGUE, what you are doing has to be new and stand out in the crowded marketplace. Being respectful of people’s time goes a long way to winning them over and developing a catch-phrase can make you more memorable.
In meetings she encourages us to facilitate interactive discussion, rather than leading from the top down and that when we listen we can learn so much more and make the other person feel valued. Lastly any information we provide needs to be relevant and useful and we can use stories to demonstrate our point.
Capture the moments in life
"Ink it when you think it."
As a blogger and writer, I just loved this quote because so often I get an idea for a blog, and then later when I sit to write it, it’s gone. She is so right to encourage us to jot down ideas when we get them. Often, she says, these are intuitive nudges, and we need to capitalize on them, otherwise they are fleeting moments, and lost as quickly as they came.
Whether you are a writer or presenter, she observes that we are losing our ability to focus and pay attention to what is going on around us. She encourages the reader to “take note of what’s right in your world instead of what’s wrong,” and she adds that when we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.
In this section she also looks at humour and how when you are presenting or talking, an injection of humour can lead to ‘aha’ moments for others. Now she is not talking about telling jokes, as that can backfire on us. No, she means using stories, of telling stories about funny things that have happened to us. I am sure we can all think of some straight away and that visual can lighten the presentation.
Sam talks about catchy one-liners that will make you and your presentation memorable, and she is a real pro at this. Take “Keep it brief or they’ll give you grief.” Or “Create a phrase-that-pays.” These one-liners truly capture her message.
Interaction is key. Don’t be a lone ranger.
"As the host, you can access and elevate the ‘genius’ in the room by giving people opportunities to feed off one another’s experience, expertise and energy."
Here she is talking more about our interaction with each other. She borrows the word “scenius” from musician Brian Eno which means half-scene, half-genius, whereby you create the environment through which people connect at a different level and share their wisdom.
She goes on to describe a meeting where the host asked each person in attendance to speak for two minutes sharing the latest, most interesting trend in their particular industry. This was a multi-sector gathering and the conversation became a much richer experience as a result.
As an event planner, I found this section most interesting and it fueled me with ideas of how to change up our meetings and make it so that more people meet and connect with one another and at a different level.
Often, she explains, we can hit a block, get burned out and her suggestion is we get back to our community, to our roots so we can get in touch with why we started down this path in the first place. She shares her own example of writing this book. She had hit an INTRIGUE block and she realized that she was focusing on what she wanted to say, instead of connecting with her readers and finding out what they wanted her to say.
As business owners this is a mistake we can often make, offering programs and services that we want to deliver, rather than looking at what our clients or customers need and want.
Got Your Attention offers extensive wisdom that can be helpful to a wide range of people, not just writers, presenters or business CEOs making a pitch. With the stories Sam uses to illustrate her key messages, you are not only hooked in, but can easily grasp the point she wants to make.
In the fast-moving world in which we live, it is good to have the tools and thought process in place that makes us stop, pay attention and connect with one another on a deeper level. This book provides us with the ammunition we need to cut through the indifference to design a different working environment in which we take a sincere interest in one another and as a result, create intrigue and connect.