Most of us briefly look up, see the flight attendant standing there, snug our seat-belt, glance up above our heads, and resume reading - or listening to music, whatever. Most of us ignore the actual briefing if we have flown more than a few times. Even the comment "you may have flown before, but this aircraft may be different than what you are used to, so please follow along with this safety briefing" is unlikely to gain more than a few curious glances. If the safety message is only a video, there may be even fewer people paying attention.
We have become so used to distractions and the constant babble of noise around us in our daily lives, we learn to tune it out - and that can sometimes be a good thing. But how do you get - and hold - someone's attention, particularly if the message you have to share is really important?
On aircraft, different techniques have been used over the years to try to gain - and hold - your attention when announcements are made, with varying degrees of success. Humorous flight attendants are popular, but what about the safety videos?
Some of the most effective have been produced by Air New Zealand, who developed a series of safety videos that actually get you watching - and engaged. They also change the videos regularly, so you are also less likely to be "ho-hum" when you get settled in for your flight. Passengers now look forward to the safety videos - imagine that! Nude flight attendants with paint-on uniforms, anyone? You can be sure everybody paid attention to that safety video!
"That's nice for the airlines", you say. "But how can we get - and keep - someone's attention?"
One tactic is to hook them with the unexpected - and then engage them in the message, and keep them interested until you are finished.
Well, perhaps it is not a great idea to literally start with a bang (especially on an airplane), but you need to do something to begin to hook their attention away from their smartphones at the beginning of your message or presentation. Something out of the ordinary can work quite well, if you don't overdo it.
Many years ago,well before the clever Air NZ videos, I was on an aircraft that most definitely held my undivided - and disconcerted - attention.
Listen to the podcast or read the full article on Gazza's Corner Blog.