Meeting Room Hacks Episode 5 - Include short breaks in your presentation
to keep people focused
The media has been touting a shortening of attention spans for decades. But there is more to it than meets the eye.
Microsoft published a study last year apparently proving that humans nowadays have shorter attention spans than goldfish. 8 secs vs 9. However, what they did was invite people to take a digital survey.
And herein lies the issue we are going to dissect today - giving people something interesting to hang their thoughts on. Imagine you are taking an online survey. Your Facebook profile is a click away, on a tab to the left. Is that survey a comparatively better way of spending your time?
No. It isn’t.
Humans will pay attention to things worth paying attention to. And that’s something you can use to your advantage when organising your presentation. We’ve already discussed how you should become The Most Interesting Object in the conference room. You should also make sure you don’t overstay your welcome.
When faced with new information presented in an unfamiliar manner, the human mind tires easily. That’s why UX designers aim for familiarity. That’s why Hollywood rehashes the same old stories over and over again. However, you don’t have the luxury of recycling old material. But you can portion the information so it becomes more palatable.
Be on the lookout for mental fatigue cues:
- Checking phones
- Avoiding eye-contact with you/ focusing on objects around the room
- Idle Doodling (some people doodle to focus, so take this with a grain of salt)
A general rule of the thumb is to take short breaks every 10 minutes - share an anecdote, a joke, retell an endearing (albeit relevant) event and then slowly pull your audience back to your presentation. When all else fails and your speech , break for coffee and fresh air after 20 minutes.