Is there anything more annoying than having your audience doze off while watching the video you’ve invested time, money, brain-power, and expensive editing into? Oh, man, that is such a bad thing to happen to someone who invests in video marketing or simply creates videos for their website or YouTube channel. That’s why I think you really need to know about a tool that can keep you viewers with their eyes peeled, actually paying attention to your video.

This amazing tool I’m writing about is called ‘pattern interrupt’. Those of you working in sales or who have gone through NLP training might find this phrase familiar. That’s because the concept behind it is very similar. In video marketing and filmmaking, pattern interrupts are tiny clips or on-screen elements who break the projection of the viewer for what is about to happen in the video they’re watching. They’re basically breaking the pattern of what people expect to happen next. When this happens, their brains are basically bumped back to paying-attention mode. It’s like people have the autopilot switched off in the fraction of a second. Now they have to focus on what is happening in your video, on what the message is, on what you want them to do, because now they’re in new territory. There isn’t a pattern anymore, the autopilot won’t work anymore.

Why should you use pattern interrupts?

It’s only natural to think to yourself ‘hold, on Cindy, a NEW thing I have to include in my videos?! It seems like a lot of work and I don’t have the time for that’ but don’t worry, I guarantee that if you do this the right way it will cost you nothing or close to nothing and it won’t involve too much time, it’s just something to sort out when you’re editing your videos.

The benefits of using pattern interrupts in your video marketing content are too important to ignore:

1. They keep boredom at bay

If there’s one thing you don’t want your viewers to be while watching your video that’s bored. You know very well what boredom does to people – it makes them stop caring, not paying attention, inhibits their desire to take action. You’re using video marketing because you want people to care, to pay attention, to act, to buy your products. That’s the whole point.

2. They keep people engaged

Even if they’re paying attention, you should want more from them. They should have a reaction to the key points in your video, to want to click on things, to post comments. Using pattern interrupts can help you get them in the right mindset to do all of those things.

3. They help you position your product/personal brand

This is something the most successful YouTubers, BuzzFeed, Vox, and so many other video gurus have figured out. By using pattern interrupts you can position yourself or your product as fresh, surprising, innovative. Depending on the type of interrupts you’ll use (and we’ll get into those in a second) you can get people to associate your content with various characteristics.

Now that I hope I’ve convinced you to use them, let’s go through some of them so you could get your creative juices flowing and find the best recipe for your own videos.

#1 Accent Words and Phrases

When you’re talking in front of a camera or taking people through a product demo, at some time you can pop-up on the screen a word or a phrase from something you’re saying. Just blow it up and put in on the screen for a second. This is a super simple pattern interrupt that will hook your viewers’ attention. It’s not even costing you anything since it will take your video editor a few seconds to add it. Just make sure you pick some key phrases and not everything you want to ‘highlight’.

#2 Image or Video Pop-ups

You can jolt people’s brains back into attention-mode by popping up on the screen a photo or a video to play without sound. This will both capture their attention and help you make the point you were trying to make.

#3 Titles or New Video Section Announcements

You don’t have to display the title of your video from the beginning, you can do it after a few seconds into the video. This is something that BuzzFeed does very often. They do it because it’s easier to hook people with a person saying something interesting and then hooking people again with a title displayed on the video.

You can do this with new sections in the video, too. Let’s say your video is about the product benefits of a new product you’re promoting, before entering the section you dedicated to information about where it can be bought, you can flash a section announcement like an image or simply the words ‘WHERE YOU CAN GET ONE’.

#4 Tips

If you’re doing a tutorial, break the pattern by showing on the screen a tip related to what you’re showing/saying. It will grab people’s attention and it will help them better understand and remember what you’re showing them.

#5 Polls

You can pop-up a poll question and display the answer choices on the screen. This will make people snap back into paying-attention mode and they’ll also feel more entertained and engaged since now you gave them the task of making a choice.

#6 Zooming In

If you want to express an emotion, you can make it more dramatic if you zoom in on your face. The out of the blue zoom in will break the pattern and also add a bit more entertainment to your video.

#7 Video Takeover

This pattern interrupt relates to showing a one or two-second clip from a very different video than yours. You shouldn’t use something random, but something related to what your video is about or about the point you’re making.

#8 Thought or Speech Bubbles

Thought and speech bubbles are a fun way to add something extra to your video and they’ll also get your audience to focus. You don’t have to make them look like the clip art versions, they can look modern and in line with your usual branding.

#9 Interjections and Sound Effects

You must know the ‘bam’, ‘pow’, or ‘zap’ bubbles in comics. You can use them in your videos to just by showing them on the screen for a second or so, to emphasize something in your video. The same role can be played by sound effects. They grab people’s attention and keep the audience engaged while also helping you make your communication more fun and effective.

#10 Changed Background

Another great hook for attention in your video is to switch the background for a very short time. This will disrupt the autopilot mode viewers can sometimes enter when seeing a video their brain treats as seen before.

Just ask your editor to swap the background for something really unexpected at a moment that makes sense.


These are just a few of the many pattern interrupts marketers and content creators can use. Experiment, watch the videos of the most successful YouTubers, ask your video editor what would they recommend. The only ‘don’t’ for this tool is to abuse it. So, don’t overdo it. If you’re using 10 pattern interrupts in a one minute video, they just become part of the pattern. You should use them sparingly when you really need your audience to be 100% focused.

Let me know in the comments what other pattern interrupts have you seen in the videos you watched in the past two months, if you can remember, of course. I’d also love to know if you plan on integrating this new tool in your videos and what sort of videos will those be.

I hope this was useful and that you’ll share it with your mates involved in video marketing or video content creation.