Let The Wild Rumpus Hit Your Conference Room

In today’s hyperactive culture, holding on to prospects’ attention long enough to pitch a successful idea can be challenging for many advisors.  You can solve this problem by taking a few cues from the recently departed Maurice Sendak.

The late Maurice Sendak is arguably the most important children’s book author and illustrator of the century.  If born after 1960, you probably grew up with his books—Where the Wild Things Are,  In the Night Kitchen, and Outside Over There are among his most popular.

In a 2002 interview with National Public Radio’s Jeffrey Brown, Sendak discusses the art of drawing an audience into a book. His audience was, and will continue to be, children who are often humming and moving and disconnected…until they have a reason to turn the page. 

Sendak’s tools to engage readers are words and pictures.  He creates a rhythm and syncopation using those tools.  It is a continuous thread of words, pictures, words, pictures, words, pictures, pictures, words.

Sendak explains that with just the right timing between those two tools, the readers’ attention is captured, and they get hungry to turn the page.  He was a master at it.  Who can forget the first time they turned the page after Max yelled “Let the wild rumpus start,” to find six glorious pages filled with just pictures of monsters having fun.

An advisor’s audience is obviously different from Sendak’s, but has some striking similarities. While not humming or visibly moving, your prospects have a lot going on.  They have things on their minds, technology buzzing in their pockets, and a whole host of reasons to remain detached from you.

You have to forge a connection using the tools at your disposal:  words, stories, pictures, charts, graphs, and technology.

Spend some time thinking about how those tools can work together to create a rhythm that moves the meeting forward.  Think about when it is time to stop talking and show a chart, or pull out your mobile device and do a quick calculation or show a picture using your favorite app.  When will a chart say more than any description you could give?  When is it time to stop talking about product features, and start telling stories about lives changed because of them?

Attention spans are shrinking.  The best way to get and keep clients focused is to switch up your communication tools.  Make them hungry for your next ideas.

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