Frontloading: Maintain Audience Attention

With the advent of Social Media becoming accepted by the masses our minds are being conditioned to expect fast tracked answers to our questions. Beyond 140 characters our attention span degrades exponentially. How can we change our method of delivering our messages without losing the clarity that comes with detail?

Maintaining your audience’s attention

Whether it is as grand as speaking to a large crowd at a conference or a relatively mundane task such as writing an email; being successful stems from knowing what to say at what moment. When done well it becomes an art form.

In the most simplistic form frontloading boils down to one thing. Deliver the most important information first. The details can come after you have their attention. Then, if possible, forget the details and move on.

Less detail is more rewarding

By holding back less important details you can determine if additional information will serve the purpose of increasing retention rates and interest or simply wasting time.

Providing your audience with less information has two key benefits:

  1. Entice them into craving more detail
  2. Guarantee they receive the most important details

Now, how do you capitalize on this technique? Let’s start by looking at the most common mistakes we make in conversation. Not just in business and social media discussion but also in every day, face to face, talking.

Avoid unnecessary details

If I were to ask you “how was your vacation?” what would your typical response be?

Would you tell me about that amazing technique you have for packing your clothes to save space for souvenirs or how the flight was great aside from the lack of leg room and screaming babies? Maybe name drop that famous hotel you were lucky enough to book last minute? I hope not. Because you lost my attention as soon as you opened with packing technique.

Give your audience more only if they want more

What if I told you that, on my vacation, I was able to see something that only a handful of people have ever seen? Would you want to know more? Then I tell you that you need to fly in on a propeller plane, drive for two days and then hike 12 hours just to see this. Are you still interested? Chances are that you would want to know what it was, how I found out about it and if I took pictures. But why?

Psychologically, I am letting you pilot this conversation. I’m giving you just enough information to gain your interest and trigger your curiosity. I’m not bogging you down with useless information. It’s lean, it’s prime and it’s here if you want it.

The turning point

In any form of conversation you only have a brief moment before your audience decides if they are interested in hearing more. That conversation can be visual or vocal.

The key to retaining attention is finding your key point and delivering it fast. Frontload it so you have more control over your audience’s reaction. Once you lose them it will take much more effort to pull them back in.

2 Comments

  1. Daryl WoodsReplyJanuary 28, 2011 at 3:30 pm 

    Oh sure Joshua, you post this great advice now after I spent all night struggling with my own article. I’ll read this again before my next one.

    • Joshua GarityReplyJanuary 31, 2011 at 3:17 am 

      Ha. Were you writing an article on the same topic?

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