What you Say… What they Hear

Sitting on a plane working recently when the flight attendant comes over the intercom and asks us to review the safety information card.

I’m not saying that I’m proud of it…but the following dialogue starts running in my head…

“Man that’s loud… where are my headphones.” 

“Is he almost done??  What can he possibly say that I haven’t heard before” (as I crank the volume…).

“Wait – are we flying over water.  Does my seat cushion double as a flotation device or is there like a life vest somewhere?”

“Well, whatever… unlikely that it's even relevant.  How long ‘til the peanuts come around?”

My entire round trip flight had five legs – I think I had that conversation with myself all five times.   Sadly, the flight attendant became like white noise.

This is almost the exact same dialogue I have when I get sent a hedge fund marketing deck out of the blue.  I barely make it to page two and I am already looking around, waiting for someone to say, “… stop me if you’ve heard this one.”

I’m not saying that you need blinking neon lights or an obnoxious noise when you turn to an important page….but in reality, it would probably be more effective than that text heavy, Arial font-based, blue and gray deck that tends to be so common.


There have been several times that I have listened intently to the on-board safety announcement.  One time was due to pure intimidation - the flight attendant was staring right at me and then announced that she wouldn’t finish until “the man in seat 9C put down his phone.”

Certainly got my attention… although, I’m not sure that I would call it “effective”.

Totally different experience the last time I flew on Southwest.  The flight attendant started by pointing out that smoking on the flight was prohibited but if we felt the need to light up, we were “welcome to step outside at any time”.  The rest of the announcement was nothing short of a stand-up comedy routine.  I even listened to her talk about what we do in the event of a water landing ("your seat cushions can be used for flotation. In the event of an emergency water landing, please take them with our compliments").

She didn’t tell me anything at all that I hadn’t heard on any other flight – but her entertaining approach had her “audience” engaged from the start.

Generating attention isn’t actually that hard.  It’s not really even the objective - generating interest is.

But generating interest requires you say something interesting.

By JD David

MarketingJD David