0.5 Key ideas about hooking their attention

    • In informal education, nobody has to listen to you. Voluntary audiences often have physical and mental freedom and will only listen if they find you interesting. Without being able to win and hold their attention, you can’t achieve any of your other objectives.


    • Your outcomes can be diverse and hard to measure. They can include both short and long-term gains, e.g. changes in emotional response, interest, understanding and skills, motivation, self-efficacy, attitudes and behaviour.


    • Most informal educators aim to provoke emotional responses and interest as vital first steps towards other learning outcomes later. The conditions under which most informal education takes place limit the breadth and depth of content that can realistically be explained.


    • We think our audience is paying much more attention than they actually are because we are so passionate about our subject. Their brains are incredibly powerful in filtering out stimuli that aren’t either immediately interesting to them or directly relevant to their survival.


    • A hook is any stimulus that provokes the involuntary attention of all your learners. The better you understand the universal (situational) interests of your audience, the more effectively you can choose your hooks. These should be deployed throughout the presentation, not just at the beginning.


    • Emotions are a powerful source of hooks. Any time you elicit an emotional response you will grab the attention of all of your audience (e.g. curiosity, amusement, anticipation, happiness, wonder, surprise, joy of understanding or mild fear).


    • Internal hooks come from the overlap between the universal interests of the audience and the topic you are presenting.


    • External hooks can be used to supplement internal hooks. These are added from outside the topic, in the hope that learners attend long enough to discover interest within the subject.


    • You are a performer. Informal educators share many of the key challenges in engaging voluntary audiences that other performers do, e.g. magicians, stand-ups, street performers, actors and children’s entertainers. The engagement hooks toolkit borrows techniques from these fields and applies them to our role.


    • Interactive presentations should aim to find the optimum balance between being responsive and being deliberate. In this way, the audience feel as if they can interact with and influence the presentation, yet the thought you have put into every element allows you to guide them towards the most satisfying experience.


    • Listen to the room. Trust the audience to be your directors by guiding you through their verbal responses and body language, but don’t over-react to individual cues.


    • Know your audience. Since relevance is such an important element of a hook, the more you know about your audience — or can reasonably assume — the better you will be able to engage them.


    • Facing the honesty of voluntary audiences, especially children, helps to hone your engagement skills. You can then use these hard-won skills to hook any audience, voluntary or captive.



Hook Your Audience (volume 1) Copyright © 2021 by HOOK training limited. All Rights Reserved.

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