Rapid Spread of Diarrhea (or How to Get People’s Attention)

NORWEY - 2013: shows Detail from The Scream by Edvard Munch (189A few years ago, my then 16-year old daughter showed me the Subject Lines of some of the daily email blasts she got from the President of the Key Club (a student volunteer organization at her high school):

Donkey Attack in East Clarksville

Rapid Spread of Diarrhea

She told me the President wasn’t getting people to open up her announcements so she resorted to clever and shocking headlines. It worked. She says that Key Club members anxiously await new emails…and they actually open them.

As a human race, we all suffer from some form of A.D.D. It’s not a medical condition as much as it’s a habit that’s reinforced from all of the many distractions we face. Multi-tasking, much as it’s warned against by brain doctors, is valued among employers. With all of the potential attractions we have in front of us, smartphones, TV, billboards, radios, and people around us, it’s no wonder we can’t get anything done. It’s also no surprise that we quit paying attention to important messages as they’re lost in the noise.

Which brings us back to the Rapid Spread of Diarrhea.

The language of Impact uses interesting, shocking, or creative ways to get people’s attention. It’s a way to break through the noise and pinpoint focus on one key message. As writers and speakers, we need to at least hold enough attention to get the audience to stay with us and get hooked on our message.

As employees, our job is to enlist the help of our boss or co-workers for support on a project or to convey a very important message to different groups. What we do to gain that attention can mean the difference between succeeding or possibly losing our job.

To use the language of Impact, consider the following:

  • State the unexpected and tie the common to that. Doing the opposite relegates our message back to the noise.
  • Use creativity to create your headline. Engage the audience or the reader. A Tax Diversification Strategies seminar won’t get the same attendance as 5 Ways to Keep Uncle Sam’s Hands Out of Your Wallet.
  • Don’t over use the language of Impact. This explains why most of us don’t fall for creative headlines in our email as much anymore. We fear losing our fortune to a Nigerian millionaire who needs our help or we’re wary of being suckered into reading someone’s conspiracy theory on how the dropping price of oil is one more tactic to make George Soros our next world dictator.

This week, evaluate your messages. See if an occasional use of the Impact language might improve your success.

And steer clear of East Clarksville. I hear donkey attacks can be quite frightening.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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