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“The 3-Second Audition”


If you’re still reading this, it means I passed my 3-second audition. What audition? In today’s world, 3 seconds is about as much time as you will get to capture your audience’s attention.

We live in a fast-paced world and we increasingly live on our mobile devices. This mobile age has significantly reduced our attention span because we get “information-on-demand”. For content on social media, to succeed in the 3-second audition, Facebook calls it “thumb-stopping” content – people use their thumbs to scroll through content on their news feeds and only stop the scrolling (with their thumbs) when something captures their attention.

But this happens not only with Facebook but in everyday business too. Think about how much attention you would give to an email, a phone call, a presentation before deciding its relevance to you and go on listening/reading. Maybe it is a more than 3 seconds but I dare say it won’t be much more.

So if you were on the “giving” end of that email, phone call or presentation, how would you pass your 3-second audition? Here are three things to think about:

  1. Impactful headlines – this can the subject matter of your email or good headers to your presentation slides (think direct vs ambiguous) so your audience knows what the email or slide is about. If you are making a call, go straight to the point instead of wasting precious seconds on “How are you today?” especially if the person doesn’t know you personally.
  2. Concise content – Be clear on your content. Think relevance. Keep in mind your objectives and communicate them. Short sentences, break things down into key bullet points and including relevant diagrams to illustrate your point help.
  3. Know your audience – Remember who your audience is and what he/she wants. If it is a potential customer, what job he/she is setting out to accomplish and how your product/service delivers value to your customer. (A useful model we use to work with our clients in business planning is the Value Proposition Canvas by Strategyzer).

Other “hooks” to catch your audience attention will include good creatives in marketing ads, or starting your email with some flattery (“I really enjoyed your presentation at the conference…” before delivering your punch).

Well, if you are still reading this, I think I have done alright so far with this article. But remember, even if you fail your first 3-second audition, it’s not the end….Successful people think about following up and not giving up!