How to get people’s attention from your boss to your Tinder date — Tips from a captivology expert

Whether you’re trying to get your kids to put their toys away or an entrepreneur looking to attract investors, you first need to understand what captures people’s attentions.

Luckily, all you need to know is explained by Ben Parr, in his book, “Captivology: The Science of Capturing People’s Attention.”

In it, Parr, an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur, combines the latest research on attention with interviews with thought leaders such as Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, film director Steven Soderbergh, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and magician David Copperfield.

Using the principles described in his book, Parr managed to build an impressive resume. Forbes named him one of their “30 Under 30”, and his work has been featured in a variety of media, including CNN, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, and The New York Times.

We talked to him about how to make a lasting impact and benefit from captivology even as an introvert.

A brief lesson in captivology. Why everyone needs to master it

Captivology is the science of attention. In the modern world, everyone needs to do it. Teachers need the attention of students. Entrepreneurs need the attention of investors and customers.

Including introverts

My friend Susan Cain, the bestselling author of “Quiet,” says that even introverts need to garner attention. Not for themselves, but for their products and ideas.

The easiest captivation trigger to put into practice

The disruption trigger. (Ben explained this concept in a piece he wrote for “We pay special attention to anything that violates our expectations.To get the attention of your bosses, clients and colleagues, try surprising them in a positive way: ask an unexpected question, beat a tough deadline, invite them for a walk instead of a coffee.”)

Photo Credit: Dan Taylor/Heisenberg Media

Look at ‘selling yourself’ as a means to getting more attention to your idea, company, cause, or career

The best way to capture attention in key situations

First date: Wear the color red; it automatically captures attention and, on average, people sit closer to you when you wear red.

Job interview: Use the reputation trigger and make sure you have somebody recommend you. Multiple people, even if they don’t know the hiring manager. It will make an impression. Cold applications are the worst way to get a job.

Presentations: Don’t use bullet points on any of your slides. Bullet points and text divide attention between you and the screen. Use seven words max on any slide.

Getting the attention of your kids: Designate times where they’re focused on one thing — a game night, a hike, etc. Nothing with an iPad nearby.

Pitching your startup: Memorability is the name of the game. Make sure your most important point is the most memorable one. Centralize your pitch around that.


People remember stories, not statistics.

Start with a personal story that proves your point. There’s a reason every great TED talk starts with a personal anecdote.


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