How to Capture Interest in 90 Seconds or Less, Part II

Make ’em Arch Their Eyebrows

“When you can do a common thing in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.” – George Washington Carver

Want to know another secret to engaging people in 90 seconds? Start with something they’ve never heard before.

You’ll know you’ve succeeded if listeners raise their eyebrows. It’s a surefire sign you’ve said something that’s piqued their curiosity. They’re thinking, “That’s interesting. Tell me more.”

Are you thinking, “I agree with this, but where can I find items that will get those eyebrows to go up?”

Scan USA Today the morning of your presentation or staff meeting. You’ll almost always discover an eye-opening item to shake people out of their preoccupation and prove early on you’re not going to be predictable (the kiss of death for any speaker — after all, if people know what you’re going to say, why should they listen?)

Cut out an article related to your issue and bring it with you. Hold it up and use a POP! technique called hook ‘n hinge to link your factoid to your topic so listeners get a fresh “Aha”.

The fact that you went to the effort to share something current and pertinent shows you’re not launching into a canned spiel. This raises your approval ratings because people dislike speakers who are on autopilot.

For example, I got up early to read the local paper before a Tongue Fu!® keynote in San Francisco and was rewarded with an article entitled “California Couple with Empty Nest Gets Serious About Downsizing.”

The article reported that Steve and Judy Glickman realized they were using only 30% of their home after their sons left for college. In a rather radical move, they traded in their five-bedroom home for a (drum roll, please) . . . chicken coop. What made this even more startling was they paid $545,000 for their new 544 square foot home (a result of the pricy real estate market in Silicon Valley).

Quoting that article definitely arched my group’s eyebrows and provided a dream opportunity to play off our theme of unintended miscommunication. With a twinkle in my eye, I asked the audience, “Can’t you just picture Judy Glickman looking at her husband with eyes as big as saucers and saying ‘No, I said . . . ‘Why don’t we FLY the coop?!’”

That got a laugh, a segue into how easy it can be to misunderstand each other and a return speaking engagement, at least partially because that amusing news item provided an uncommon intro to my topic.

Want more ways to have your listeners at hello? Check my next blog to discover how to immediately increase your likability factor — so people are predisposed to like you and what you have to say.

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