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Introduction Section I: What¿s the problem? Chapter 1: Stuffed with information and starved for attention The reason people aren¿t engaged in your communication: ¿A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.¿ Insight 1: The novel vs. NASCAR If reading has become a special interest, which it has, and NASCAR is the fastest growing leisure activity, which it is, how does that affect the way we communicate? Section II: A compelling strategy for getting attention Chapter 2: Focus on ¿you¿ The key principle of getting and holding attention is to focus on the audience¿to help audience members solve a problem, meet a need, answer a question that they have. Insight 2: The end of the beginning What can a high school graduation teach us about audience focus? Chapter 3: Love your audience Your target audience may be unlike you in every way. But if you understand those differences¿and embrace them¿you will be successful at connecting with the very people you are trying to reach. Insight 3: People who love Lawrence Welk What can the people who adore ¿champagne music¿ teach you about how you should communicate? Section III: Techniques to grab and hold people¿s attention Chapter 4: Create a high concept Smart communicators in Hollywood, on Madison Avenue and in our nation¿s capital make their messages laser-focused to successfully capture people¿s attention. We will show you how they do it . . . and you can to.. Insight 4: Uncle Sam (and Hollywood) want you How do posters for movies and military recruiting get attention in just an instant? Chapter 5: Fill in the blanks Abstract concepts don¿t draw people in¿but rich, specific description infuses communication with energy. Insight 5: Wretched excess It was a dark and stormy night . . . can you take description too far? Chapter 6: Tell a story It¿s the oldest way to get people¿s attention, and still the most effective. Insight 6: Hemingway c¿est moi What techniques did a hard-drinking novelist use more than 50 years ago that are even more appropriate today? Chapter 7: Provide easy navigation People don¿t have time to search for information¿they need an easy entry, and the quickest route to find what they need. Insight 7: You are here What do mall maps have in common with communication that¿s easy to navigate? Chapter 8: Make it visual Visuals are a universal language, and even simple visuals can dramatically enhance communication. Insight 8: Back to school What did a high school biology teacher know about using visuals? Chapter 9: Stay short and sweet So much to say, so little time¿yet it¿s essential to cut communication to its essence, and make it clear and conversational. Insight 9: The unvarnished truth about reading levels Why are long words and complex concepts such a bad idea? Chapter 10: Write a recipe In a confusing, complicated world, it¿s irresistibly appealing to create communication that actually helps people get stuff done. Insight 10: Betty Crocker and apple pie Why is it so hard to give good directions? Section IV: Putting these ideas into practice Chapter 11: Learn by example How to improve your own communications by analyzing what doesn¿t work. Insight 11: The best four years of your life. Why are college recruiting materials a best practice? Chapter 12: Sell the new approach By employing persuasive techniques, you can make your case to management, clients and colleagues about why we all need to communicate differently. Insight 12: ¿Seeing a lot just by looking¿ How can old-fashioned observation make you an effective communicator? References and resources Recommended reading Index [CT]Introduction [NF]This book is for you if: [BL]Your success depends on your ability to communicate effectively. [BL]You are finding it increasingly difficult to get people¿s attention. [BL]You know¿or suspect¿that people are tuning out without getting your message, much less acting on it. [NF]At this moment, all across America, there are millions of people just like you¿people who need to communicate to achieve their objectives. Maybe you¿re a professional communicator. Or a manager. Someone in marketing or sales who needs to get through to customers or prospects. A human resources professional. A senior leader who needs to excite and engage your workforce. Whatever your role, you¿re probably feeling increasingly frustrated. Your audience is so busy, and so overloaded with communication coming at them from all directions¿emails, memos, voicemail, company publications and reports, sales updates, the latest government reporting regulations, industry trade publications (the list seems endless because it is)¿that they barely glance at what you send them. At best, they¿re reluctant¿at worst, they¿re downright hostile when it comes to paying attention to what you have to say. They¿re cranky because they¿re besieged by communication that isn¿t relevant to them. As a result, no matter how hard you work to get your message right, it just isn¿t working. [NOTE TO PRODUCTION; [CK] = checkmark] [SBH]Tuning out and turning off [SB]You¿re know you¿re not capturing people¿s attention when they: [CK]Delete e-mails without reading them [CK]Ignore or at best skim, printed materials [CK]Zone out during presentations [CK]Fast-forward through voicemails and videos [CK]Fail to retain the meaning of what you¿ve communicating [ESB] Maybe you need to stop struggling so much. Maybe what you need is a radically different approach. That¿s where we come in. We understand your pain¿we¿re communicators, too. We¿ve struggled with that horrible sinking feeling of knowing that even though our message was sound and our writing was clear, it still wasn¿t working: We weren¿t grabbing the attention of the people we needed to reach. [SBH]Who are we? [SB]Alison has spent the last 20 years running a company whose sole function is to help companies such as Aetna, Dow Corning, Hewlett-Packard, Johnson & Johnson, Raytheon, and Wyeth communicate with their employees. (Employees being the world¿s #2 toughest audience¿the toughest audience is, of course, teenagers.) Paul has been a writer for more years than he would care to admit, working for publications¿such as BusinessWeek, Fast Company, and The New York Times¿whose business it is to capture readers¿ attention. He¿s also written a book or two (actually, 15) along the way. Together, we have figured out what works to reach today¿s busy distracted audiences. [ESB] [NF]That¿s when we decided to reinvent what we do. We stopped typing and started looking around at how the world had changed, and how our customers¿ expectations had changed along with it. We studied what experts in psychology, marketing, adult learning and other fields had discovered about people¿s attention spans, comprehension, and motivation. We left our comfort zone and entered the sometimes scary world of gossip magazines, video games, and blogs. We analyzed survey data that indicates how people are experiencing all forms of communication, from network television to personal e-mails. And we interviewed people: employees, customers, and other target audiences: people of all ages¿in their 60s, 50s, 40s, 30s, 20s, even teenagers (talk about scary!). [H1]What we learned [NF]We discovered three critical facts about today¿s audience: [NL] 1. People won¿t pay attention to information just because it¿s interesting. There¿s so much good communication available that ¿interesting¿ is simply the starting point for attracting people¿s interest. To get your audience to pick up your brochure or keep their itchy fingers from hitting the ¿delete¿ button, you¿ve got to go much, much further: Exciting. Fun. Immediate. Compelling. Useful. And, most of all, Relevant (see #2). [NL] 2. The most relevant communication is ¿all about me¿¿information that directly relates to audience member¿s needs and wants. Your audience members might be so stressed out their heads feel like they¿re exploding, but they¿ll still stop and pay attention when someone says: [BL]¿This is for you¿ [BL]¿Here¿s something that can help you.¿ [BL]¿You can be (thinner, richer, happier). Here¿s how.¿ [NL] 3. No matter how compelling (#1) or personally relevant (#2), your communication might be, your audience won¿t pay attention if they have to work too hard. The media (TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, Internet) has set the expectation that communication will be as easy as the tollhouse cookie ¿mixes¿ Nestle sells in the supermarket dairy aisle: You don¿t have to ¿mix¿ anything; just open the package, plop the dough on a pan, bake, and: Presto! ¿Home-made¿ cookies! Unless your communication is just as easy to use¿accessible, easy to navigate, quick to digest and completely clear¿your audience won¿t participate. To continue the cookie metaphor, people may glance at the recipe (It¿s telling that most people don¿t buy cookbooks to actually prepare food, but as culinary coffee table books) but they just won¿t take the time to measure flour, cream butter and mix up the batter. By the time you notice that your audience isn¿t paying attention, they¿ve already left the kitchen. [SBH]How easy is this? [SB]The mainstream media is dedicated to making it easy for the audience to get what people need quickly and easily. For instance, consider these energy-saving techniques from the world of television: [BL]The TV remote control. [BL]During football or baseball games, the little boxes that show pertinent facts and statistics. [BL]Headlines ¿crawling¿ across the bottom of a CNN Headline News broadcast. [H1]The bottom line [NF]Based on what we learned about today¿s audiences, we took out a blank piece of paper and said, ¿What do we need to do differently to a message across to today¿s busy and distracted audiences?¿ The answer was: Almost everything. So we started creating a new formula for communication, one that is not based on old assumptions about people¿s attention, but one that deals with the reality of today. This book shares what we¿ve learned in depth, but here are some big-picture concepts to get you started: [BL]Communication needs to quickly and obviously meet the needs of your audience. What you¿re sharing or selling cannot be about you¿the person communicating, the company, or the product; it has to be about them. [BL]Your audience expects to find what they need immediately. They don¿t want to wander up and down the aisles of your communication store, searching for the refried beans they need to make dinner; they want a map, a sign¿or even better, for someone to take them by the hand and lead them right to the information they seek. [BL]You don¿t have the luxury of time or patience. Remember Veruca Salt, the character in the 1972 movie, ¿Willie Wonka and The Chocolate Factory?¿ She was the spoiled brat who said, ¿I want it and I want it now!¿ Everyone in your audience is like that, not because they¿ve had indulgent parents¿your audience simply doesn¿t have a choice. They¿re so beleaguered and over-stimulated that they need it now. [BL]We assume you¿re a good communicator and can put together a decent sentence. But to quote TV chef Emeril Lagasse, ¿Now we need to kick it up a notch.¿ Your communication needs to be punchier. More compelling. More vivid. And, most importantly, much shorter. In this competitive communication environment, we need to elevate our communication skills to new heights. We need to write better. Use visuals effectively. Organize everything logically and intuitively. [H1]How this book will help you [NF]We¿re going to show you how to create compelling communication. The kind of communication that grabs your audience member by the shirt collar, briskly slaps him across the cheekbone, and leaves him saying, ¿Thanks, I needed that!¿ This book is designed to: [BL]Practice what we preach. We¿ll demonstrate the techniques we advocate. [BL]Show examples of what to do and especially what NOT to do. [BL]Help you right now. There won¿t be a lot of theory you have to contemplate. This is advice you can immediately put into action. Keep in mind: This book is for you. Whether you read every word, or skim to find the best nuggets, the book is set up to give you the confidence and the tools you need to be successful at getting through to people. We know you can do it, so let¿s get started. [PN]Section 1 [PT]What¿s the Problem?
Library of Congress Subject Headings for this publication:
Advertising -- Psychological aspects.