The Art of Being Interesting

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I’ve been paying attention to the things that command attention, both of myself and others, and I’ve made a list of 21 techniques that work. This list is far from all of them I’m sure, but it should be enough to get you started …

1. Be wrong

The world is full of people trying to do the right things. It’s become so common that many of us are bored by it. We long for someone that’s willing to do the wrong thing, say the wrong thing, be the wrong thing. If you have the courage to be that person, you’ll find lots of people paying attention to you.

2. Be right

You can also gain attention by being right … but only if you’re more right than everyone else. Run a mile faster than anyone else, explain your topic more clearly than anyone else, be funnier than everyone else. Embody perfection, and people will take notice.

3. Communicate what others can’t

As writers, we take ideas from our heads and put them on the page. Sometimes we forget how difficult that is for some people and how valuable that makes us. Lots of people would give anything to be able to say what they mean. But they can’t. So, they turn to songs, books, and art that communicate for them. Be a producer of those things, and you’ll never lose their attention.

4. Do something

Everybody online is trying to say something important, but very few are trying to do something important. If you want attention, dare not to just give advice to others, but to live that advice yourself. Then publish it to the open web.

5. Surprise people

Chip and Dan Heath, authors of Made to Stick, say that one of the best ways to set yourself apart is to break people’s “guessing machines.” Take a surprising position, making outlandish analogy, or otherwise do the opposite of what you normally do. As long as it’s unexpected, people will stop and pay attention.

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