Ever asked yourself this question?
Chances are, yes, especially when something’s on the line.
On a blind date.
At a job interview.
When preparing a presentation.
I hate to break it to you…
but the answer is probably yes.
It’s nothing personal – just statistics.
MOST people are boring.
This is why a mere 5 percent of content creators on social media attract 95 percent of consumers.
The good news?
There are proven ways to hold people’s attention.
Want to know what they are? Read on.
Here are 5 tips from wildly successful author, speaker and entrepreneur Thomas Frank on how to engage an audience and keep their attention:
1. Bring Passion To What You Do
Thousands of scientists are out there publishing research that affects our world and our lives – sometimes in surprising and fascinating ways. Yet most people don’t just sit down and read scientific papers. Instead, we watch the likes of Bill Nye, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, or David Attenborough on TV. Often, they’re presenting the same data we might read in a research journal – but now, it’s entertainment.
What’s the difference?
What these three men – some of the greatest scientific minds in the world – have in common is a passion for the subjects they teach that comes through in their content. When you understand something well enough to discuss it confidently and you have a genuine enthusiasm for it, that enthusiasm will be infectious for your audience.
Don’t assume that you don’t need enthusiasm just because people are interested in your topic. People will always choose content that invites them into a fun and engaging experience over one that simply trots out the facts. And if you bring your own enthusiasm to your content and make it contagious, even people who aren’t particularly interested in the topic have a reason to watch, read, or listen.
2. Cast A Wide Net
Make sure you’re reaching people besides just your target audience. If your content is aimed at 28-30-year-old programmers who want to improve their social skills, that’s probably where you’re going to make most of your money, sure – but stop being boring to everyone else. Don’t make it so specific that nobody else can benefit.
A 20-year-old college student who wants to get better at talking to girls or a 39-year-old working mom who wants to develop a more confident public persona will still want to hear what you have to say – and the more they share and boost your content, the more likely it is that your target audience will see it too.
Self-help guru Tony Robbins is a good example of a business owner with a wide net. He makes most of his money through exclusive events, attended by a relatively small number of people. By marketing broadly, he ensures that the small minority of people willing to pay to attend a leadership seminar know what he has to offer.
3. Become An Interesting Person
This is a tip for anyone who is the face of their own business: as tempting as it can be to hide behind the scenes, it pays to invite your audience into your life – and make sure that life is interesting. Yes, you want people to follow you based on the quality of your content – but if you build up fascination around yourself you’ll have a much easier time drawing new regular customers in.
Try telling stories from your life or linking to your Instagram. You don’t have to overshare, but make people feel like you’re including them in your adventures.
YouTuber Peter McKinnon, for example, has a channel focused on video editing tutorials – cameras, gear, how-tos, techniques in Adobe Premier, and other technical lessons. There are a lot of people on YouTube who post similar content, but none of them have been able to build as wide a following as quickly as McKinnon. The difference is that he also vlogs about his life – and he’s interesting. He structures his videos around things like a photography trip to the arctic circle or filming the ocean with a drone. Even though his subject is niche, he’s able to draw from his own exciting experiences to appeal to viewers outside that niche.
4. Stop Being Boring – Be Funny
In his talk at Menfluential, Thomas Frank mentioned that most of his videos are shot from an outline so that he’s talking off the cuff. But when a video that had been scripted out – because it was very heavy on facts and scientific data and he wanted to make sure to get all the numbers in accurately – performed exceptionally well, he discovered the value of taking time to plan and tighten up a video…you can add more jokes.
One of the writers from Arrested Development said that they wanted to have so many jokes available they could throw half of them away. You don’t have to be cracking a joke in every other line of your post, but if you always stay conscious of the intent to insert humor, you can afford to cut weak jokes out afterward, which is a great way to stop being boring.
Even if you have a topic that feels like it has no potential for humor, you can make it work. Humor either targets a hostility or frustration, or contains an element of realism, emotion, exaggeration or surprise. Making an unexpected pop culture reference in a video that’s mainly science-based, for example, relies on the fact that it’s unexpected. Don’t be afraid to make unlikely connections.
5. Take Advantage Of Your Medium
Whatever form your audience receives your content in – video, audio, the written word – that form has its own particular advantages. You need to identify them if you want to stop being boring. Work on your weaknesses and play to your strengths.
Maybe you make videos and you’re very charismatic on camera – or maybe you’re not but you’re great at the editing. Pay close attention to detail – things the like the composition of your shots in videos or the intro and outro music in a podcast – and don’t be afraid to get creative. The YouTube channel ASAP Science makes their informational segments with just a whiteboard, a camera, and a bit of editing to speed up the drawing. With basic office supplies and very limited editing, they treat their audience to engaging visuals that illuminate the information they’re sharing.
Engaging an audience is an art, but it’s also a science. These techniques have already proved their worth by growing content creators’ businesses. Give them a try – you have nothing to lose.