How to Keep Your Audience’s Attention
If you’re anything like us, in 2022, you expected things to be back to ‘normal.’
You planned to head back to the office and send your kids back to school. To see your long-missed friends or travel to that distant beach. To go to that wedding that’s been postponed three different times.
And hopefully, for you, some of those things do happen. Hopefully, you get to see family and friends and travel freely. We’re cup-half-full kind of people.
But here’s the thing: the ‘normal’ of the past is gone. It’s stuck back in 2019. The entire landscape of our lives, of what we had previously considered ‘normal,’ has fundamentally changed.
Many of us are still working from home, and we’ve had to change how we operate and engage on a day-to-day basis. We’re hiring globally instead of locally, engaging with new technology, and challenging how things worked before. Despite all these changes, our goals and targets stay the same.
We’ll be the first to admit: sometimes it can be hard to stay engaged virtually. It’s easy to check e-mail while on Zoom or to text while listening to a presentation. At home, a lot of the time, you’re the only one holding yourself accountable.
And still, today’s business landscape requires engagement and attention. We’ve had to adjust, pivot, and re-work what it means to genuinely stay engaged in a world inundated by distraction.
And for us, it all boils down to one thing: STRATEGIC STORYTELLING.
What is STRATEGIC STORYTELLING?
As the name implies, STRATEGIC STORYTELLING means telling a story strategically—with specific pacing and structure—to create a genuine connection with your audience. Because once you have that, the rest is easy.
But doing that, telling the story in the right way to foster engagement and connect, can be challenging.
What does that mean for you—the person trying to keep your teammates’ or clients’ or prospects’ attention?
Your story must be concise, effective, and authentic. Those three qualities are the essence of what we call STRATEGIC STORYTELLING. Lose any one of those things, and you’re going to lose your audience’s attention.
Let’s break each of those pillars down a bit further.
The three pillars of STRATEGIC STORYTELLING
We use STRATEGIC STORYTELLING to tell every one of our stories. It’s the backbone for all the work we do here at Creative Blue.
And if STRATEGIC STORYTELLING is our toolbox, then authenticity, concision, and effectiveness are the tools that lie within. And it’s with these tools that you’ll be able to engage your audience and create a solid foundation for your story.
Be true to who you are and to the mission of your business.
It sounds so simple. But in a world driven by numbers and metrics and keywords, it can be tough to look beyond that and think critically about the ethos of your business. It’s hard to speak plainly about who you are and what you do if you’re unsure of your mission. But once you’ve identified that, you can speak authentically and confidently about your ability to make your clients’ lives better.
Treat your audience as if they’re your equal—not superior or inferior. Try, sincerely, to forge a connection and appeal to them emotionally and authentically. Consider what you value in outside-of-work relationships—sincerity, confidence, optimism as some examples—and carry some of those qualities into your business communications.
Keep it simple. Don’t use 20 words when you could get away with nine.
If your technology is complex, break it down so someone unfamiliar with it can still engage.
Your audience wants only a few things from you: to understand your product, service, or tool; to hear how you’re going to make their lives better or easier; and to know what the actionable next steps are.
The simpler, more direct the message, the more engaging and more digestible it is for the audience. You say more with less.
Your message– whatever it is– should be focused and centered around maximizing real-world impact.
This is the third tool in the box. To be effective, you must also be concise and authentic.
Remember what we said about shortening attention spans and competition for attention? It’s because of this, that your story must be effective.
But what does that mean—to be effective?
For us, an effective story is one that’s engaging and eventually spurs the audience to action. We do this by positioning how things are against how they could be.
Think about the structure of this post. At the beginning, we wrote about commonalities and universal truths. We wrote about how hard the world has been, and in doing that, we created a connection between us and you.
And then, we wrote about the challenges of staying engaged at work, of truly capturing your audience’s attention. And then we said, we know how to help with this.
And now, we’re giving you the tools you need to address the challenge of keeping audiences engaged.
To be effective, you need to clearly define your goals and your audience’s takeaways. What is the purpose of your message? What are you trying to convey? If you gave yourself an elevator pitch, how would you deliver the most important points as succinctly, accurately, and passionately as possible?
And you need to plan your story. Once you understand your goal, use bullet points, paragraphs, or buzzwords that spark your understanding of the concepts. This won’t be perfect, at least not at the beginning; the point here is to structure your story in a way that will be best received by your audience. It should act as guardrails to keep you and your messaging on track.
Make STRATEGIC STORYTELLING part of your process.
Powerful storytelling isn’t complicated, but it isn’t easy either. In this post and the series of posts that follow, it’s our goal to share what we know so you can win every time you tell your story.
STRATEGIC STORYTELLING is an authentic and effective way to communicate your brand in a way that resonates and then creates greater engagement across departments, teammates, prospects, and investors. The overall takeaway of your message, your strategic story, can inspire growth, spark innovation, and encourage initiative whether you want to deliver outcomes, clearly get your point across, engage prospects, or be heard above the crowd of other voices in your field.
If you want to revitalize your team, engage new prospects, or pursue new initiatives, we’d love to talk. Or, if you have different ideas about the power of storytelling, we’d love to talk about that too.