Did you see the movie Jerry Maguire?

Remember when Tom Cruise (Jerry) burst into Dorothy’s (Renee Zelwegger) home at the end of the movie to profess his love? He’s carrying on about how much he loves her, and she finally interrupts him and says, “You had me at hello.”

In today’s rush-rush world, people are often preoccupied. It takes a lot to break through their distraction and get their attention.

If we have something we care about – whether that’s an idea, a worthy cause or our business – it’s OUR responsibility to package it compellingly so it captures people’s interest and has them at hello.

Here at The Intrigue Institute, we’ve studied the art and business of “intrigue” for 20 years.

Intrigue is defined as “to cause curiosity, to capture interest.”

We also define “intrigue” as the ability to get people to care about what YOU care about.”

The good news is, we’ve developed a step-by-step system you can use to win buy-in to your priority.

That system is outlined in our founder Sam Horn’s book POP!, and is also available via our Intrigue Institute presentations, podcasts, consulting services and products.

One of our favorite ways to “have people at hello” is to use an intriguing quote from a current source to stop people in their tracks. If you “hook and hinge” that quote to your priority and explain why it’s relevant; even the busiest people can be inspired to look up from their Blackberries and iPhones and give you their attention.

We’ve compiled a list of our 50 favorite intriguing quotes including:

1. “When you create, you get a little endorphin rush. Why do you think Einstein looked like that?” – Robin Williams

2. When Judd Apatow, writer/director for 40 Year old Virgin was asked what he’s learned, he said, “Maybe that things that happen to me can be fascinating. Instead of trying to think up high-concepts for movies, I started looking for what was ‘relatable’”.

3. “If you don’t have an idea that materializes and changes a person’s life, then what have you got? You have talk, research, telephone calls, meetings, but you don’t have a change in the community.” – Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of Special Olympics

4. When asked if he was always so sure of himself, Clint Eastwood said “Oh, I don’t think anybody begins that way – otherwise it feels like arrogance. It’s just that when you accept that life is a constant learning process, it becomes fun.”

5. “I like being tested. I get as scared as anyone. But the feeling of putting yourself on the line, putting your talent out there, betting on yourself and having it work, is the most exhilarating feeling in the world.” – Conan O’Brien

6. “The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for.” – Maureen Dowd

7. “Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours.” – Richard Bach

8. Asked why, at 72, he has no plans to retire, actor Morgan Freeman says, “If you take time off, you get more off than you want.”

9. When asked how he “kept his sanity” in the competitive world of movie-making, Robert Redford said, “Other people have analysis. I have Utah.”

10. A Washington Post reporter asked Michael Phelps why he was re-dedicating himself to swimming after 4 months of partying following the Olympics. Phelps said, “I discovered that having nothing but fun is not all that fun.”

You can receive the full list by emailing us at Sam@SamHorn.com. We recommend you print it out and keep it handy so the next time you’re delivering a presentation, writing an article, or preparing a marketing campaign; you review this list for inspiration. You may find just the right insight to capture the favorable interest of your target audience and motivate them to give you their valuable time and mind.

Yet another highlight of presenting POP Your Business and Brand at this year’s INC 5000 conference was having the pleasure of seeing other world-class speakers in action.

One of my favorites was Keith McFarland, author of The Breakthrough Company which is based on a 5 year study of how everyday companies become extraordinary performers.

Keith’s book is based on an intriguing premise: “99% of business advice is written for people working at giant firms. In fact, nearly 50% of Harvard Business Review articles refer to The Big Five of IBM, General Electric, Dell Computer, Wal-Mart and Southwest Airlines.”

He wondered, “What can leaders of small to mid-size firms really learn from studying the ways of IBM? Wouldn’t it be better if business owners studied the success factors of companies more like their own?”

Keith’s book (which he generously gifted to me following our conversation), is, as Stephen Covey says, “Impressively researched, beautifully illustrated and clearly written.”

On top of that, Keith is an edge-of-your-seat speaker. I actually took notes and shared them with him afterwards because he was doing so many things right.

In this blog and the next, I’ll share three of the above-and-beyond platform techniques he used to capture and keep the attention of a sophisticated audience of executives who gave him their rapt, reverent attention.

Edge-Of-Your-Seat Speaker Tip #1. He led the audience in a 60 second stretch.

That may not sound like a big deal, but it was a smart decision on his part. Why? Keith was the third keynoter that morning. If he had not acknowledged the audience had been sitting for almost 2 hours, they would have been inwardly groaning and planning their escape.

The first words out of his mouth were, “I know you’ve been sitting since 9 am. Make you a deal. I propose we all take a 60 second stretch break . . . as long as you don’t take advantage of this opportunity and make a break for the exits.”

Audience members, pleasantly surprised that Keith had read their mind, nodded their heads in amused agreement, stood up, raised their arms to the sky, rocked back and forth on their feet, and then sat back down, re-energized and ready to hear what Keith had to say.

If you’re ever in this situation, if it’s your turn to speak and it’s been hours since people have had a break; realize they won’t really be listening to you, they’ll be waiting for you to wrap it up so they can head to the bathroom.

You will win their attention AND affection if you follow Keith’s example and give them 60 seconds to move around to get their blood flowing and their interest going.

Want to know the other two platform techniques Keith used to keep us on the edge of our seats? Check back for my next blog which will explain exactly what he did to stand out in that impressive lineup of keynoters.