What happens when we "zone out?" How do we go from "I need to pay attention to this," to, "Wait, what did he just say?" I'm sure there are plenty of reasons, some particular to each person and some not. I think a major one for all of us though, is when we get to a part that we know, or have heard before we just… change the channel.
Unfortunately, since we don't actually know what's coming, or how long the portion will last of "what we already know," new information can zip right over our distracted heads. As a speaker, too many of these moments can mean the difference between a good job and "Snooze Fest."
"Don't pass the cream!" is Bill Lampton's suggestion for getting your participants to focus on your message. Well, it's actually the punch-line of a great story about an experience he once had with an unexpected communicator. Regardless, Lampton means to demonstrate that doing the unexpected gets people's attention very quickly and cements you in their memories after.
In an audio conference call, this could mean announcing the first agenda item, then getting a participant to take a stab at presenting it with their own thoughts and conclusions for five minutes or so. Or, on the lighter side, you could dial into the conference and "forget" that you aren't muted, all while discussing your "double-life" and the bank heist you pulled the night before.
Then there's my favorite: at some point during the first ten minutes of a video conference, have a friend in a gorilla suit casually walk behind you, peer over your shoulder into the camera, and saunter away. The gorilla never returns, and you, of course, never noticed it or broke your presentation flow, but you can bet that eyes will be riveted to you for the rest of the meeting.
It's not likely, but if you have any "unexpected communication" tips that can beat the video conference gorilla, I'd sure like to know them. Leave your tip in a comment and we'll see.