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How to Pull Focus in a Group Conversation

By Ben Fogler I’m gonna paint you a picture: you’re in a large, chatty circle, and you feel the topic of discussion shifting away from you. Suddenly, everyone in the group is just prattling on about…other things. And it’s like, “But you guys, I’m the star!” 

Listen, we’ve all been there, and the struggle is real. Everyone was talking about you, but then it’s like you’re invisible. In the blink of an eye you’ve gone from Rachel Berry on Glee to Tina Cohen-Chang on Glee, from “ME!” by Taylor Swift feat. Brendan Urie to “Nothing New” by Taylor Swift feat. Phoebe Bridgers, from the first season of The Walking Dead to the last season of The Walking Dead (which I still stand by and will to the last breath). 

So what’s a major diva like you to do? Well, you’re in luck because, as any superstar will happily inform you, there is always a way to bring the spotlight back to the main event (you), and it definitely isn’t exhausting or annoying for anyone watching. Here are some great things you can say and do to pull focus:

“My favorite film is Cats (2019). Now, HEAR ME OUT-”

I have used this one before because I actually love Cats (2019). Something about those anthropomorphic felines portrayed by A-listers is just so…intriguing. Uncanny Valley be damned, I think the Cats movie is a masterpiece of cinema, and I do, in fact, own it on Blu-Ray. And trust, I know from personal experience that there is no way anyone can let this statement go unanswered, because God forbid someone have an eclectic taste. You may be thought less of, but hey, at least you’re being thought of, right? Right?

“I think if we were all child laborers in the coal mines during the Industrial Revolution, I’d probably last the longest.” 

No one can resist a competition, even a hypothetical one. You could spice it up by saying who you think would last the shortest, and now you’re the center of a full-blown argument. 

“Look, say what you will about Amber Heard, but she doesn’t get enough credit for how much she was serving during that trial.”

Any sentence that starts with “Look, say what you will about…” is always going to be an attention grabber. Following it with “Amber Heard” multiplies the power of that statement by like, a billion. And then finishing it off with a hot take that is totally unrelated to her character, the trial, or literally anything else, will leave the rest of the group speechless. Which is perfect, because now that dead air needs someone to fill it, and that special person is you. Voila!

Get down on one knee.

No one can resist a proposal. You don’t actually have to propose to anyone, but once you’re down there, people are obligated to listen to what you have to say. You can now deliver your speech, and as long as you match the cadence and style of a proposal, it’ll probably take a while for people to realize that you don’t even have a ring.

Get down on both knees.

Start praying. It’s your First Amendment right to freely exercise your religion. If your friends ask what you’re doing, loudly proclaim that this practice is PROTECTED by the CONSTITUTION of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA, and if they don’t like it, well, they can take it up with the GOVERNMENT. Now, you’ll probably have the attention not just of your group, but of several passersby. 

“But just remember, if you’re lucky, one day, hopefully, your womb will bring forth a child. And you do not know what that child will have to go through…”

For the people who know about the Nicki-Megan beef, this is sure to reinvigorate the conversation. And for the people who don’t, this is scary as hell. There’s no way anyone could ignore it. 

Do an impression of Kristen Wiig’s character “Penelope” from SNL.

One-upping is probably the most effective way to pull focus, as Penelope will tell you, and she’ll probably tell you a little bit better than I would, so… No, but seriously, this will work no matter what everyone else is talking about. Did Bertha get promoted to Assistant Manager at Kohl’s? Well, you actually just got promoted to Assistant Assistant manager at Lowe’s, and it was actually a little more promoting, and you’re actually getting paid a little more, so...Did Bobby’s cat die of Feline AIDS? Well, your dog actually also died of canine AIDS, actually, and it was a little sadder, and the dog was a little younger than Bobby’s cat, so…Oh, is someone else trying to pull focus by getting down on their knees to propose? Well, you’re actually getting down on your hands, you’re doing a handstand, and your proposal is more beautiful, and more people are clapping for you, sooooooo…” you get the gist. 

“I just feel like people don’t recognize MY successes. I have done SOOOO much, but nobody here ever gives me my flowers.”

Burst into tears. Whabam! In their mad, frenzied guilt, your friends won’t be able to resist showering you with compliments. 

sniff “Well, someone forgot to shower…” 

Then look at the least popular person in the group. You have now created a potent power dynamic. You can choose to ostracize one person, or you can turn to look at several other people in turn, thus adding a little bit of suspense and mystery. Sort of a whodunit, except more like a whodidn’tdunit, with “it” being “practice good hygiene.” And you’re the detective here because you were the first person to identify the foul odor, so everyone will be looking to you for answers. 


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