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Pay Attention! How to Create Mesmerizing Meetings


The Key Ingredients to Hold Their Attention

In this distractible age, whether you’re attempting to communicate with senior reverse mortgage prospects who may have hearing deficits or difficulty concentrating, or those at the other end of the age spectrum who can’t miss a nanomoment with their phones, how can you get — and keep — their attention? Like Star Trek’s Captain Picard, whose signature command, “Engage!” propelled the Enterprise into warp, it requires personalized, purposeful reverse mortgage newsaction.

According to Inc. magazine, “The only thing you can control is the message and the delivery of that message. The secret to engaging Millennials [or elders] in meetings is crafting captivating content.”

Here are some suggestions for capturing and holding the attention of your audience, whether you’re addressing seniors at a lunch ‘n’ learn or Millennials at a business gathering:

  • Begin with a story. Did your mother or dad read, or tell you, spellbinding bedtime stories? I still remember tales my father made up when I was knee-high to a grasshopper. Stories draw us into the speaker’s realm, and are a classic way seasoned presenters impel audience interest.
  • Involve your listeners. The corollary to story is interaction. A friend attended a daylong psychology workshop that could have been very interesting, but she was bored senseless after fifteen minutes. Why? The presenter used lecture format only, when the subject matter practically begged for audience participation in the form of group discussion, paired exercises, and quiet time to assimilate learning and discoveries.
  • Involvement might also mean asking meeting participants ahead of time what they most want to hear about, either via a quick emailed survey or, if it’s a small group, calls or text messages. (The latter will likely work best with younger audiences, such as the family members of a senior reverse mortgage client, rather than the seniors themselves.)

  • KISS: Keep it Super Simple. For seniors, especially, less is more. If you plan to make half a dozen points, cut it down to two or three, and repeat the message in various ways throughout your program.
  • Be visual. We think in pictures. To help KISS take root, use images and videos where appropriate. For Millennials this is a no-brainer; it’s why Instagram and YouTube are stratospherically successful.
  • Engage the phones. Work with what is. Think of creative ways to engage younger audiences with their ever-present phones, such as by asking everyone to respond to a live poll.

While Millennials may be disrupting the meetings structure of old, and seniors may be hard of hearing or otherwise distracted, you can still create productive presentations. It’s all a question of “meeting” people where they are. Just as Gen Y has stepped up to the plate when it comes to tech-savvy elder care, they and their grandparents are ripe for meeting reinvention. Engage!


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Editor in Chief:
As a prominent commentator and Editor in Chief at, Shannon Hicks has played a pivotal role in reshaping the conversation around reverse mortgages. His unique perspectives and deep understanding of the industry have not only educated countless readers but has also contributed to introducing practical strategies utilizing housing wealth with a reverse mortgage.
Shannon’s journey into the world of reverse mortgages began in 2002 as an originator and his prior work in the financial services industry. Shannon has been covering reverse mortgage news stories since 2008 when he launched the podcast HECMWorld Weekly. Later, in 2010 he began producing the weekly video series The Industry Leader Update and Friday’s Food for Thought.
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1 Comment

  1. Really good article. In the reverse mortgage world we are forever speaking to groups of all kinds (seniors, referral partners and trusted advisors, children of seniors). I know that I am so focused on the delivery of my content that I sometimes forget about those receiving it. Thanks for the reminder to “engage” my listeners.

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