Keep ’em listening by keeping ’em stimulated!

 In Blog

March 11, 2011

In the frenetic world we live in of endless options for media stimulation competing for our attention, how can we expect to hold our listeners long enough to grow TSL (time spent listening)? How can we keep topics and fast moving headlines seemingly beaten to death (Egypt, Libya, Obamacare and now the Sheen Express) sounding fresh?

It’s no secret we’ve moved from the linear world of communication to a digital universe of controlled chaos.  Translation: multiple and simultaneous sources of information and stimulation are required to engage and fulfill your listener’s aural and cerebral satisfaction. How can we accomplish this without sounding like Charlie Sheen on a 7-day bender? Cue “pattern disruption.”  Pattern disruption is a concept used by public speakers to re-engage the attention of their audience. The idea is to disrupt the pattern every few minutes because people have a tendency to zone out (in our case, tune out) when a pattern continues longer than five 5 minutes. In this case speakers will put up a new slide, play a piece of audio, demonstrate something visually, engage the audience, etc. Your show should be no different.
Radio shows are now using this idea to keep pace with the short attention world in which we live to maintain and grow TSL in PPM markets. The idea is to re-engage your listener every three to five minutes.  Some of the techniques used include:
•  Start a story
•  Introduce a new topic
•  A piece of audio
•  Introduce a guest
•  Set up conflict between two players with strong POV’s
•  Make a lightning rod statement
•  Raise a question
•  Issue a challenge
•  Hit a punch line
•  Air a caller
When was the last time you found yourself in a digital time warp? You’re probably in one right now! You set aside 15 minutes to go online and feed your curiosity. Next thing you know it’s an hour later. Whether it’s Huffington Post, TMZ, Deadspin, Fox News or the New York Times, think about how you digest the seemingly endless sources of information and “stay tuned” to the net.  A headline grabs your eye, you click through and scan for a bit. You find yourself needing more so you follow a link within the story for additional information.  You’re seeking more stimuli so you click through another link which takes you to another site that lands you on a YouTube video which then brings you back around again for a final analysis before you move on to the next item up for bid – whew!  
Your listeners are no different.  They have come to expect the same level of engagement and stimulation from all of their media outlets – this means you, too.  The good news: pattern disruption can make for a more compelling and memorable show. One they’ll likely listen too for longer periods and remember next time they’re seeking information stimulation. What more could you ask for – increased TSL and more occasions. The take away: Keep ’em listening by keeping ’em stimulated!  

-Brian Holt

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