How to Sustain Interest


So you’ve managed to make your audience notice you.

Maybe this just means you got a click on an email headline or stopped a thumb from scrolling an Instagram feed.

But we all know what a big deal this is, given the billion other things that humans can pay attention to these days. So give yourself a pat on the back.

But that’s just the start. Now you gotta keep the momentum going and fight to keep this hard earned attention.

Here’s a proven list of things to try:

1 Be Funny

Why is fun interesting? Because it makes us laugh.

And laughter literally strengthens hearts, reduces stress, boosts the immune system, burns calories and makes people want to date us.

Nobody is not interested in laughter.

Also, if you start off your sentence with something funny, you immediately offer something of value. It’s the fastest way to get somebody interested.

The hard part is, to be funny. And people will say you are either funny or you aren’t.

I’d say it’s a muscle like any other to train. Because there is a reason why our brains find things funny, and if you figure that out, you can practice it and make it happen.

2 Drive them curious

How do you make people curious? You tickle them and then you stop.

  1. You talk about the result, so they wonder about the process.

Show an uneducated immigrant who became the CEO of a multibillion-dollar business in 2 years, so people ask “How?”  

  1. You talk about the ‘before’, so they seek for the ‘after’.

Remember the two young men in the Wall Street Journal ad from the previous post: ‘1 How to seize attention’? (If you don’t, please go back for a sec or waste time and try to read on without any context.)

Don’t you want to know what happened to them?

We ended with ‘But there was a difference.’  

So what was the difference?

  1. You talk about an unusual fact, so they dig for the cause.

‘One of the men was manager of a small department of that company. The other was its president.’

What? But they went to the same college, and they were both bright and ambitious!  

What made the difference?

That’s basically how curiosity works, tease them with a bait, so they’ll want to jump on it.

The caveat is again that you know what hooks them and you use the right bait.

Talking about how to become the president of a company may not interest a hippie with more spiritual pursuits. But talking about a man who reached enlightenment in the Tibetan mountains, will.

3 Teach something

We seek to improve our life situations through learning. We learn about how to set up a website, how to do parallel parking, or how to make the baby stop crying in the middle of the night.

If you give people the “How to” knowledge to fix their life for free, they will be interested. But again, you need to find the right problem.

And, you need to…  

4 Earn their trust

If you don’t remove that barrier of mistrust, people aren’t gonna take you seriously.

Without trust, your pitch stops here.

That’s why reviews and recommendations work great.

That’s why family and friends are important.

You can earn people’s trust with the following: (in ascending order of effectiveness)

1 Facts and data

Facts and data appeal to our logic. And people like to think of themselves as logical, they also trust people who seem logical.

The truth is, data and facts are secondary to our fears, motivations, beliefs, and values. The mountains of data that point to global warming aren’t going to change this woman’s (and many others) mind about it being a hoax.


And she has been reading The Economist for 20 years, it’s probably not because she missed out on all the facts and data about global warming. It’s probably because she made up her mind about it long before.

Ok, facts and data don’t influence action, or even opinions in this case. But that doesn’t mean we find them any less useful for backing up our fears, motivations, beliefs, and values. They are good supporting information to use when we choose a position. They are the ammunition for shooting down our enemies, once we decide whether we kill and who we want to kill.

Flaunt this ammunition, and it gives them the impression that you know what you’re talking about, even if you just googled it as I did with most of the facts in this post.

2 True stories

We went over why stories are great tools for getting attention (in 1 How to seize attention) and why it is actually so powerful that it can transcend all stages for the audience.

Except probably not always the action stage. Well, hopefully not anyway, otherwise some of us would fly over to the White House and slap the president of United States. (This post was written in 2018)

You know what’s better than true stories though? True personal stories.

You see, the better you are at closing up that gap between you and your audience, the better chance you will have in persuading them to take your side.

Facts and figures make them listen to you because you don’t seem stupid. Stories make them like you because you are interesting. Personal stories make them trust you because you took the step to open up and relate.    

4 Unsaid truths  

Following the sequence from above, guess what gets you even closer?

If you were able to prove to them that you know how they feel.

If you are able to say the things that don’t come up in a small talk.

If you know their pains, fears, deepest wishes, and darkest truths and open up the floor with your own thoughts and examples about it, it invites them to come into your circle.

Have you hooked them? Maybe not.

But you definitely have their interest. Because you just showed them that you are interested in the same things.


Read on for…  

3 How to arouse desire

Or go back to…

1 How to seize attention

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