When you write a persuasive message, your audience might be supportive or resistant, or people might fall into a third category that communicators often overlook. What if the audience simply doesn’t care? How do you get the attention of the apathetic?

These are people who do not recognize the problem, so they do not feel a sense of urgency about it. Therefore, so your first step is to generate concern.

  • Emphasize that the problem is widespread. Whether you are speaking or writing to your audience, you can open your message with a fact, a striking statistic, or an attention-grabbing example that illustrates how extensive the problem is.
  • Convey that it is a serious problem. Sometimes an issue is not widespread but it is serious, so open with a fact, example, or statistic that illustrates the seriousness of the problem.
  • Explain how the audience could be affected by the issue. If you want an unmotivated audience to sit up and take notice, tell people what the impact will be or could be on them and on people they care about.

Focusing an audience’s attention early is always important, but with people who are indifferent, it is critical to snap them to attention quickly. Social psychologists have found that people who are apathetic do not begin to pay attention to a message until somewhere in the middle.