Do you remember the board game of Buckaroo?
I remember fondly on wet Sunday afternoons playing Buckaroo. You loaded up this spring mounted plastic horse with all sorts of plastic items – spades, boxes, blankets – the items got heavier and heavier and eventually the horse would bolt out of the springs, scaring you witless.
You see, there were only so many things the horse could carry before it bolted and that’s a little like humans and their attention spans.
NLP says that we can only concentrate on around 7 things. Only keep around 7 items in our head, in our conscious mind. Beyond that and we bolt like buckaroo.
Make sure when you’re dealing with a customer or colleague that you want to influence, keep the distractions to a minimum.
I’ve some more ideas for you to keep your client’s attention in meetings, but before I explain, I’d like you watch this 1 minute YouTube video. The link is here https://youtu.be/HxpHJ0bgRPM watch it on your phone, or laptop.
Brilliant clip, notice what Bill Gates does to maintain the audience’s attention, with the mosquitos and humour.
Now I’m not saying you should release mosquitos in your meetings, I think the FCA or your Sales Manager would have something to say about that.
A typical TED Talk is no longer than 18 minutes, known to be the characteristic attention span of an adult but if you need to keep them longer, here’s some ideas to maintain this sustained attention:
- Get them involved throughout – questions, filling in online forms, good listening on your part.
- Give them your good stuff to start with, that way they keep attention for longer. If you lose them early on, you’ve lost them for the rest of the meeting.
- Change the pace every ten minutes or so.
- Change the topic or issue every ten minutes or so.
- Use humour, help them to laugh.
- Change their emotions, their state. Ask questions to take them to different states. Euphoria of having their first home, desperation of their income drying up in the event of a long term illness, relief with the idea of protection.
- Pattern interrupt, as we say in NLP. Suddenly ask them how their weekend was. “Tell me, what’s your favourite ever weekend?” “Did you hear that noise?” “Hey, did you hear the football result last night”. Just interrupt their pattern and you’ll gain attention.
- Summarise periodically to maintain interest.
- Shorten your meeting timing, split into multiple meetings if this works.
And stop calling them appointments – you only make appointments with your dentist or doctor – your client conjures up the same state of mind when you call them appointments. Not the drill again; give me pain relief please.