Here is a behavioral pattern I learned in high school that has applications in sales and in presentation delivery.

Back then, I remember getting on the Cleveland Public Railway System and heading to downtown Cleveland to do some research in the Main Public Library.

I was taking AP English at the time and had chosen to write a paper on Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.

It was near the end of April and the weather permitted everyone to walk outside with only a “modest” jacket instead of the usual bearskin rug that is typical fare for a Cleveland spring.

As I was walking downtown from the station to the library, I was lost in my own thoughts, thinking about the paper, the end of the school year, graduation, a summer job, college, etc… However, I didn’t have to think about where I was going. I had been to the library numerous times over the past few weeks, so the entire process had become automatic.

Suddenly, I heard someone call out my name. It was unmistakable. “Larry!”

I whirled around to see who had called me, but I could not find a familiar face anywhere in the crowd.

As I was about to return to my own mental tasks, I heard my name shouted out again, with far more fire: “Larry!!”

This time, I was able to identify the caller. He was a grizzled looking man in dirty clothes, standing on a milk crate and selling the “End of Days” to whoever would “wake up” and pay attention.

Who were this disheveled salesman’s prospects? The people whose names he called out, naturally.

As I watched him, he called out several other names, seemingly at random. And without fail, after every name he called out, two or more people in the crowd would break concentration with a startled expression on their face and look in this gentleman’s direction.

The lesson here is quite simple:

Get Your Audience’s Attention By Using Their Name!

If you are a sales person and you want to get your prospect’s attention, use their name.

If you are presenting to a large group and you want to insure that you have your audience’s attention, use the names of a few people in the audience. Those few will wake up and pay attention because you used their names.

And everyone else will wake up and pay attention as well, because you just might use theirs next.