Battling Short Attention Spans

A 2015 study conducted by Microsoft found that the average attention span is about eight seconds. This gives us about five more seconds to keep your attention.

Still with us? Keep reading to learn how to do the same with your attendees.

Getting people to your event is only the first step. Once they arrive, you have to battle for their attention. Work-related emails, text messages from home, social media check-ins, and even the quest for the next level in Candy Crush all threaten to steal the focus of attendees. We've pulled together a couple of ideas to put to work as you battle to make it past the eight second mark.[Tweet "Once they arrive at your event, you have to battle for their attention. #GovEventsBlog"]

  • Meditation - We've talked in previous posts about building wellness activities into events to foster learning and creativity. Meditation is proven to increase focus and brain function. Think about building light meditative actions into presentations. Have the speaker invite the audience to imagine a scenario that relates to their talk.[Tweet "Have speaker invite attendees to imagine a scenario that relates to their talk. #GovEventsBlog"] For example, "imagine you just got an alert that your network has been breached. Where are you? What is your first instinct..." This quick exercise of focus on a common and relatable challenge may help get the brain tuned in for more focused listening to the rest of the session.
  • Ask Questions - Have presenters randomly pick people out of the audience to ask questions of or solicit feedback from. If people know there is a chance they could be called on, they will pay closer attention to avoid being "that guy" who says "Ummm huh? Can you repeat the question?"
  • If You Can't Beat Them, Join Them - Seriously consider shrinking the length of time of your events. Forbes' annual Under 30 Summit provides only three hours of formal programming each day, leaving the rest of the day for networking and other more informal events. Look at your agenda to see if there are topics that are repetitive or complimentary that could be combined into a single session. Take that leftover time and allocate it to informal discussion amongst participants.[Tweet "How do you capture and retain the attention spans of event attendees? #GovEventsBlog"]

We'd love to hear your thoughts on how to capture and retain the attention spans of attendees. Let us know your successes (and even failures) in the comments.

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