Yesterday when the taxi I was in pulled up outside the Hotel Windsor in Melbourne, my door was immediately opened by a large man in an overcoat and top hat, who gave me a warm and hearty, deep baritone “Welcome!” 

Not the quiet and reserved greeting I expect at a good hotel, but a full-voiced, robust one. A welcome that said he couldn’t be happier I was there.

While I paid the driver, my new top-hatted friend took my bag from the boot. He must have read the bag tag because he addressed me by name as he walked me up the steps into the hotel, introduced himself, and began a conversation with me about what I would like to see and do in Melbourne and how he could help me enjoy my stay.

It was delightful. It was also surprising; it broke my expectations about what happens when I check into a city hotel. It captured my attention and stuck in my memory.

Attracting attention is the first hurdle of any communication. If your audience is checking their email or going through their mental task list, there is no chance for your message to get through. It's just white noise.

A wonderful way to attract attention is to break expectations. Find something surprising or counterintuitive in your message and lead with that.