All the World’s a Stage: Why Shakespeare Got It Right
Today, our attention spans are shorter than ever. In an environment where we're constantly bombarded by marketing, advertising, new information, new products, etc., we have to find creative ways to grab people's attention and hold it.
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts
– William Shakespeare
Our culture in America is one in which things are rapidly changing. What was new and important yesterday is old and irrelevant today. Even this morning's news is forgotten by the afternoon.
When the world is changing so fast, what do we do and how do we stand out?
First, I want to share some interesting statistics with you.
- The average attention span in 2012 is 8 seconds. If you're presenting yourself in an interview, in front of a meeting, or to a customer, if you haven't grabbed their attention within the first 8 seconds, you may have lost your opportunity. Source.
- The average length of time someone will watch an online video? 2.7 minutes. I've actually closed a YouTube video in less than that when I felt like it was wasting my time. Source.
- Our first impressions are made in the first 1/10th of one second. For better or worse, we're judging people and things constantly. As part of our survival, our brains evaluate situations and surroundings to determine if we need to stay or leave.
So, why did Shakespeare have it right when he said, “All the world's a stage”?
The world in which we live is our stage! You and I need to act as if we're always presenting something to someone, partly, because we always are. Whenever you or I walk into the office in the morning or into a client meeting in the afternoon, we're always presenting ourselves, our personal brand and our company. We are on display. We are on stage.
Every presentation we make, each phone call we conduct, report we type or paper we turn in, or each time we walk into a classroom, every situation in which we find ourselves has the potential for someone to be watching what we do. The new team member watching the more tenured guys for how they react to a situation; a younger sister watching everything her older sister does, or even children listening to their parents; all of these are real world examples to which we can relate.
Now, I'm not an advocate of judging people; I've been judged prematurely and I've had to work to overcome those incorrect first impressions. However, with short attention spans, a constant bombardment of information, and people making snap judgments, we need to be showing our best side all the time. We have to attract the right kind of attention and hold that attention long enough to make a meaningful impact.
As Shakespeare said, “All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts.” We all have a brief time on the stage of life and we have to make the most of it. Make your mark on the world between the time of your entrance and your exit; play your part, everyday, as if it were you finest moment.
So, have you been misjudged?
Have friends, co-workers or customers treated you a certain way that you didn't feel was warranted?
If you're like me, you can answer “yes” to these questions.
So what did you do to change their perceptions?
Or have you been successful in grabbing someone's attention? Do you have a story where you made an excellent first impression and it moved you forward on your path of success? Share what you did in the comments below!
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