Top 5 Ways To Capture Attention And Maintain Focus

We live in a world with short attention spans and constantly-racing minds. So why is this? What controls this? How can we control this in others?

The goal here is to determine what your message is and how you can effectively deliver it to your respective audience.

So why do we live in this world with short attention spans?

Nowadays our society is flooded with social media, memes, TV series, advertisements, and so many flashing lights and colors! This all plays a factor in how we can focus our attention to pinpoint a certain niche. It’s important to realize that you are not the only competition out there. To be effective as the “big dogs” out there, you have to BE A “BIG DOG.” To get to that level, you have to first start small (obviously) and grow your audience. Once you’ve conquered that and maintained that audience, start to spread out, whether it be geographically or  digitally, you have to reach more people.

What controls this? How can we control this in others?

Not to get too technical or scientific on you but our brain controls everything. Of course we control our brains (to a certain conscious extent), but our Reticular Activating System, or RAS, is what really filters what our mind is aroused by. The RAS controls how our physiology functions and governs even higher functions in our body.

There are a few universal factors that can play into this: physical need, self-made choice, names, emotions, contrast, and novelty. To sum it up – we pay attention to things we need, choose to pay attention to, things we recognize, things we are excited/sad/provoked by, things that are compared or show opinion, and things that are different or new to us. We control this in others by relating to them what we are trying to deliver. I will give an example later.

Now to the nitty-gritty.

As a new entrepreneur, my field is (mainly) graphic design and web development. Though I do offer other services, like I said before, you have to start small and grow your audience. So how do I get my message across? Well, lucky for me, I offer something no one else offers (this is the novelty factor). My offer is that I do not collect complete payment until my client is satisfied. That means that if you aren’t happy with what I’ve come up with, you don’t have to pay me in full…

How has this worked out for me? Amazingly.

I market myself around other companies in my area and to do that in the Northern Virginia and DC Metro area, that is not easy. I did my research though. I found that a lot of these marketing companies, graphic design companies, and web development companies all get a majority of their business from referrals. Now that is something new to me.

So where does that leave me? Honestly for me, that just makes it that much easier. I can just market myself through the vision of other people. Since I already aim to effectively help others deliver their message to their respective audience, I am gaining experience from doing the research of who their audience is, what this audience likes, what the message is and how to reach this audience! Then my job is simple… make sure the message gets delivered by capturing the attention and maintaining the focus.

Here’s the example. I’ve been working with an individual with their start-up company. They have tons of material and everything laid out perfectly, but they were lacking a sense of style. Everything (website, forms, content, layout, etc.) seemed bland and didn’t really provoke any emotion when I saw it. The way this individual was talking to me about their vision and company was unlike anything I was actually looking at.They were passionate, full of energy, eager and extremely motivated, but the material lacked that emotion. So I helped. I redid some forms, added color, redid the copyright and when I presented the material back… this individual was in aweThey loved it. Immediately looking at the SAME MATERIAL (drawn out differently) and feeling something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. That is the emotion I want to encompass – seeing something and immediately reacting to it.

Now for what you’ve been waiting for…



  1. NOVELTY– anything unknown to the mind, it gravitates towards. We’re human so we are curious and are naturally inclined to learn and grow. Make sure that you present novelty every second for your audience. This can mean changing the way you lay out how you present your material, like adding more images and taking out more words.
  2. PROVOKE EMOTION– anything our mind is interested in, it gravitates towards. Let’s say you’re a surfboard company and you want to reach more surfers in your area. Think of a common mistake or incident you experience and build on that to develop a way to capture attention. Now I’m not a surfer but an example could be an image of a surfer sitting on a beach staring out into a calm ocean with a caption reading “Waiting for the world to turn…” with your logo at the bottom. BOOM there it is – every surfer has experienced this (I’m sure) and everyone will stop to like this picture or share or comment on it (depending on where you posted it).
  3. PRESENT IN A LOGICAL PATTERN – the brain likes patterns; they’re easy to recognize. Easy example of this: this blog. I presented with the title of TOP 5 WAYS TO CAPTURE ATTENTION AND MAINTAIN FOCUS, started with some opinion and then moved along into an example and then presented the material. Always save the best for last.
  4. GIVE EXAMPLES– the mind likes things it can relate to. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to explain molecular biology to a English major college student, unless they had examples or ways their mind could relate to the subject, they won’t grasp it. You have to make sure if you are presenting material that it is easily understood and can be relate-able to your audience, otherwise it won’t do any good. This is also why it’s important to start with focusing on a small audience and then branching out later on.
  5. PLANNING & STRATEGY– know the whenand the how. This is extremely important. When is your audience looking for material such as your own? What is the highest traffic time for x social media platform? What is the reading pattern for people in my audience? These are things you need to do research on to fully understand who your audience is and what their habits are. I can tell you that most readers in today’s society skim and scan over material very quickly and mostly in an F-shapedpattern. This F-shape is (most of the time) comprised of: a title, subtitle, image, few lines of description, and a list. Just understand that you have to research before you jump in. Make sure you do your homework so that you can be effective.

All in all, what is important  to understand is that we are all doing what we love and trying to reach people like us but forget how we actually respond to material because we are now on the opposite side of the spectrum – selling rather than buying. Just realize that you started in the consumer’s shoe, so don’t forget what makes you love what you do, because your reason for loving what you do may be the same reason for the next person too.

Reach out, provoke emotion and inspire through action.