My job is to talk; your job is to listen. If you finish first, please let me know.” – Harry Herschfield

What’s a situation you’ve got coming up in which you’ll be asking people to listen to you? Did you know your success depends on whether you capture their interest in the first 90 seconds?

People today are BB (Busy and Bored). They have dozens of things competing for their attention and they think they’ve seen and heard it all.

If we don’t quickly prove we’re worth their valuable time and attention, they’ll start checking their watches (or Blackberries.)

The best way to instantly intrigue listeners is to fulfill the 3 Prerequisites of the First 90 Seconds of any Communication.

1. Make ‘em chuckle.
2. Make ‘em arch their eyebrows.
3. Make ‘em say a mental yes.

Make ‘Em Chuckle

“I learned at an early age that when I made people laugh, they liked me. This is a lesson I never forgot.” – Art Buchwald

If something makes you laugh, it will probably make others laugh.

Imagine you’ve been asked to coach employees on cell phone etiquette. The evening before the staff training, you’re watching a talk show and guest Sandra Bernhardt is complaining about how offended she is when people talk on their cell phones in restaurants.

The host says, “I have Caller ID and never answer my phone in public unless it is urgent.”

The quick-witted Bernhardt says, “Caller ID? What we need is Caller IQ!”

You could start your training with Bernhardt’s line (be sure to attribute it) and then segue into three ways staff members could practice Caller IQ so they don’t offend customers by taking calls during business functions.

Starting off a serious subject with a light-hearted approach will pleasantly surprise listeners and they’ll be more likely to tune in instead of tune out.

Check back for the next blog to discover more ways to capture people’s interest the next time you want them to pay attention.