People aren’t listening. They are mentally doing email, preparing for their next meeting, and thinking about other things, especially personal things. The first step in communicating is to get their urgent attention.
Think about these facts the next time you’re writing content for your newsletters or blog:
In an experiment with 60 executives, the factors most highly associated with getting attention were:
1. The message was personalized
2. It evoked an emotional response
3. It came from a trustworthy source
4. It was concise
The messages that evoked emotion and were personalized were more than twice as likely to be attended to as the messages without these attributes.
This comes from an article “Getting the Attention You Need,” in HBR Sept-Oct 2000 by T. Davenport and J. Beck. It is quoted in the excellent book The Secret Language of Leadership by Stephen Denning (Jossey-Bass, 2007).