“A-I-D-A. Attention, interest, decision, action. Attention – do I have your attention? Interest – are you interested? I know you are because it’s fuck or walk. You close or you hit the bricks! Decision – have you made your decision for Christ?!! And action. A-I-D-A…” – Blake, Glengarry Glen Ross
This quote comes midway through one of THE greatest monologues in movie history. Now, I’m not usually one for a monologue. Usually I find them to be full of exposition, take any monologue from the Star Wars Prequels for example; or badly written, like at the end of Rocky IV; or badly delivered, Kristen Stewart in Snow White and the Huntsman, anyone? But not here.
In a scene that David Mamet added to his Pulitzer Prize-winning play script of Glengarry Glen Ross to add length to it because the play is quite short by movie standards, Alec Baldwin delivers a crackling, Pattonesque tirade of abuse levied at his unsuspecting victims. He is the motivational speaker from hell. If you’ve never seen the film, it’s a masterpiece. And this scene alone is worth watching over and over again for its writing and acting, not just from Baldwin, but from Ed Harris, Jack Lemon, Alan Arkin and Kevin Spacey. And if your day needs a little sadistic invective, you’ll find the scene on YouTube to watch in your own time.
The reason I bring this scene up is because of the AIDA principle that Blake raises. It’s very important at the start of your video that you grab your audience’s attention.
Questions that generate curiosity influence our brain to want to know more, and they’re a great place to start. And more often than not, they leave your audience wanting to know “what’s in it for me?”
By asking a question you are inviting your listeners to participate in your story. It immediately draws your audience in, flicking a switch from passive to active participation. Of course, your audience must want to know the answer.
And as a side note, you shouldn’t start with a question that can be easily answered “no”, because people will answer it and switch off. This is called Betteridge’s Law. Betteridge’s Law says that any headline ending in a question mark can be answered with the word no. So, only use a question that defies Betteridge’s law.
Can farming practices in Oklahoma solve climate change? Can sensors scientifically prove UFOs exist? Does bad grammar stand in the way of true love?
It’s probably unlikely that farmers in Oklahoma have solved climate change, that UFOs can be proved or disproved, and that grammar and love are intrinsically linked.
However, a clever closed question like “do you want your career to fail?” can be used because despite it being very easy to answer and everyone (hopefully) would give you the same answer, would be drawn in to find out what you said next.
Probing questions, those that start with “who”, “where”, “what”, “when”, “how” and “why”, are usually better placed to get people thinking and to draw them in.
So, what questions can you ask at the start of your next film to draw in your audience to grab their attention?