I just sent this in response to “Why are you unsubscribing from us?” (on the third screen you had to click through to unsubscribe):

The constant stream of “ALERT!” “URGENT” and other messages just got too much. If everything is urgent, then nothing is. I know the data says it works, and I’m sure it does — for a while. But you’re going to run into urgency fatigue. And in the meantime, I just don’t want my attention to be strip-mined any more.

Speakers do this, too. They pound every point they’re making, giving each! one! equal! weight!

And that will, indeed, hold an audience’s attention for the first few sentences. But past that, their attention will fade. Most people can’t be hectored for very long without starting to tune it out.

That’s on top of the simple need most of us have for variety. Your speech can’t be an endless prairie: you need peaks and valleys. And you have to earn those big pounding moments with quieter and lighter passages.

So use those all-caps moments judiciously. Provided, of course, you want your audience to stay subscribed — er, engaged.

Image source: Flickr user Island6ArtsCenter

Subscribe to SpeechList

Insight, advice and ideas for speechwriting, speaking and leadership communications — from my inbox to yours.

Thanks for signing up! Now just one more step: check your email inbox for a confirmation link, and you're all set!

Share this post