How to Grab and Keep Your Audiences Attention in 2023

Sarah Stanfield
Sarah Stanfield
Customer Success
When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new - Dalai Lama.

Jen Lederer, Award-winning comedian and keynote speaker, recently came as a guest on BIGVU’s webinar to discuss “How can you grab and keep your audiences attention.” 

Jen started off with her favorite learning from her career as a comedian. You only have 30 seconds to grab people’s attention as a comedian. I have learned that this rule applies to everybody, regardless of their industry. Everybody has a story. Everybody needs to hold people’s attention to tell their story. You can have a perfect script, but what good is it if you deliver it like a robot?

I would rather have you stumble on 15 words in a 30-second video if that builds the connection. It’s better than delivering a perfect script that connects with nobody. It’s very common to get concerned with having every word right in a video, but should that be the focus of your video? The focus should be to engage and connect with people on a deeper level. To leave an imprint. To leave your message with them.

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Table of Contents:

    Stop Trying To Impress

    If you’re trying to impress your audience throughout the video, it becomes your focus. You will be less concerned with what clicks and more with what makes you feel special. Stop trying to be special from the start. We make up titles that don’t exist beyond our industry. We complicate answers to simple questions so much so that we lose attention. Stop making every simple thing difficult. Is it good if your answers lose your audience?

    I have been in the entertainment industry all my life. I have learned that it’s very difficult to separate the business mind from the creative when you yourself are the product. You need to learn the balance between structure, business, and how to be vulnerable. Bring your heart to the stage without worrying about the response. We think too much about how people are going to perceive it. Trust the process. Give your 100% and stop trying to control the uncontrollable.

    It doesn’t matter if you’re from the tech industry, finance, or real estate. Everybody needs to tell their story. We all are talking to humans and trying to connect. Stories are what make us feel connected with others. Stories give us a sense of belonging. Share your story. 

    Educate Your Audience

    Your audiences don’t know about your industry. Don’t assume that they do. Don’t use industry jargon because that’s when people disconnect. Not everyone needs to know financial or technical terminologies.

    Be simple. Being simple is underrated. Don’t try to be the interesting person in the room.

    People can’t stand around someone who thinks they are the most interesting person in the room.

    The most interesting person is the person who is interested in knowing you and what you do. It doesn’t come from certifications, jargon, and workshops. It comes from being simple.

    Be interested than trying to be interesting. The objective should be to build a connection than what you can get from the person. 

    Don’t try to sell right away

    Network to connect and convey your message. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Don’t think of selling something. The newsletter. The workshop. The course. Your goal is to connect with people. Value connections. Make relationships. 

    When you stop trying to impress and sell, that’s when you listen. Don’t always talk about work with people. 

    Stop the pitching train for a while. Have conversations that make people feel seen and heard. 

    Real conversations happen very often that you can utilize to connect and not try to deliver your perfect pitch.

    Build Your Information into Stories

    Why is it important to tell stories and not just information and facts? You need facts to convince people, but stories build trust and relationships. People will only buy into facts when they trust and feel connected to you. 

    Video is the best medium to tell stories on social media platforms. In an age when people hardly read and skim through texts. Video gets attention. The video should be crisp and tell more in less time.

    Your message depends on your audience. What kind of audience do you have? What do they need from you? What they are here for? These questions tell you much about your audience and the content you need to produce. 

    Be Unapologetically Yourself

    Use your personality to your advantage. What works for you might not work for others. Be unapologetically yourself if you feel you don’t have an amazing personality.

    Everybody has a personality. Shine a light on your personality. Don’t underestimate it. You have been functioning with that your whole life. You must identify what works for you and bring your unique self to your videos.

    Take The First Step

    “Share from the scar and not from the wound.”

    Vulnerability is important but don’t sell it. You feel betrayed when you share something your mind and body are not ready to share. Your body will feel betrayed.

    Vulnerability means to be your biggest advocate first. It is not to share something if you don’t feel like it. Don’t share a story if you’re not ready. You might never, and that’s okay.

    When you share from the wound, the audience's first reaction will be to take care of you. You have broken the contract with your audience. They were supposed to get relaxed and trust you to take them on a journey. Instead, you have made them to take care of you. You are harming yourself and your audiences by sharing something you’re not ready for.

    Don’t give in to the virality impulse.

    Type 5 Formula to Tell Better Stories

    Jen shared it is her own term. It means five minutes of material. It really is designed to give people an idea of what content they will get from you.

    Always share less because people want to have a reason to listen to you.

    The formula can be applied to creating content: 

    • The first step is to give information to your audience as clearly and fast as possible. So from a comedian's point of view, I have 30 seconds to speak the truth in that room and make you laugh. Give them the crux of the video at the very start to have them hooked.
    • In the second step in a comedian's formula, we pick three topics to build into this five-minute formula. For me, it's usually childhood, my sexuality, and stories about traveling. This sets clear expectations. My audiences know what they will get from me.  This is what I call the meat and potatoes of this formula. This step has three sub-steps:
    • The How
    • The Why
    • What’s Next?

    How, Why, and When is the actual formula. You can build 50 stories around it. People will get excited to know about your “How, Why, and When” and share theirs. Make them a part of it. 

    • The third step is how you get out of it. Ask questions to build on connection and to encourage engagement. End with a question. Check with the audience what resonated or how you can explain more about what you said. 

    This involves getting vulnerable. This is where your human self will show. This is where you tell what’s next. It might be ridiculous, but people get excited when you share your future plans. We all like to dream unrealistic things; it gives us hope that someone else does it too. We are not alone. 

    Everything in this formula is about building connections. Don’t hurry through the conversation. Don’t end it without checking with your audience.

    How can you check in with your audience on video?

    It’s very similar to what you will do on a stage. Ask your audience in the comments section to share if they liked it. Ask them to like and share if they agree. Comment if they disagree, and that’s when you get honest feedback. Understanding the difference between talking and having a conversation is important to build connections. Focus on building connections and relationships. Don’t focus on pitching. Selling will happen as a result.

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