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How to Communicate When Your Boss has a Short Attention Span

If anyone has ever met Dave Snyder you know the following: he is a smart man, he is a busy man, he has a short attention span. I know I’m not the only one being managed by a person who needs some managing, so I put together some tips on how to connect with your overly busy and overly consumed superior.

Efficient Email Usage

When your boss has to shuffle through hundreds of emails each week, you need to make yours stand out from the rest and really catch their attention.

Your subject line is where it all starts, so make it count. If you can’t grab their attention from the subject line you’ve probably already lost them before they have begun. Use words like urgent, important, and priority to indicate the level of importance the email carries. Use dates and times so they know that if it’s pertaining to something due soon.

If you’re working for a boss who is known for avoiding emails you will need to resort to some extremely dramatic subject lines. Try something like, “The Office is on Fire!” or “Someone Wants to Sue Us.” However, if you’re going to use this tactic make sure you squash the lie at the start of the email so you don’t give them a full-blown heart attack.

shutterstock_101469439Make sure the emails are kept short and sweet, use 150 words or less. If you do have to send a lengthy email make sure you use proper bullet points and highlight or bold the main ideas to make it easy to skim.

Schedule Meetings with Agendas

First, check their calendar. I suggest avoiding scheduling something after two previous meetings. They are probably going to be mentally drained and/or thinking of things discussed in previous events.

Once you lock down a solid time for the both of you, send an invite with a bulled list of points that will be discussed.

Prior to the meeting, list out the items you want to address in their appropriate order.

Get Creative with Apps


With a goal of helping people remember things, communicate effectively, and get things done, Evernote is the perfect fit for your easily sidetracked boss. Evernote is great for keeping track of notes during meetings or writing thoughts down throughout the day. You can easily share your notes via email which makes sending a recap or research just a click away.


When you’re only working with 140 characters, it’s hard to lose someone’s attention. If you find that your boss is having a hard time understanding that new idea you had or a change you’ve suggested, use Twitter (or Hootsuite) to tweet them an article that discusses the advantages of the idea or change.



Depending on the type of relationship you have with your boss, you might want to consider using Snapchat to alert the man in charge. While Snapchat is definitely known for ugly selfies sent to friends, the fact that you can only see an image for seven seconds means anyone with a short attention span will be able to get the point.

Boss didn’t show up to a meeting? Snapchat a picture of everyone waiting with a caption of “your presence is requested in conf room.” Going to be late to work? Snapchat a picture of the traffic you’re stuck in with a caption of “I haven’t moved in 15 min.”


Are you working on a demo or a presentation that you would normally use PowerPoint for? Why not try Vine? Make the presentation quick, creative, and to the point in a short looping video. Since it loops over and over again you won’t have to worry if they caught it the first time.


And If All Else Fails…

Yell loudly. That should get their attention!

How do you get through to busy bosses or coworkers?

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