7 Tips for a 7-Minute Attention Span

7 minutes. The attention span of a typical audience lasts about 7 minutes before you run the risk of losing them. You might get 10 minutes if the topic is especially of interest, or just 5 minutes if you’re lucky enough to be presenting in that sleepy post-lunch period.

Imagine you’re on deck to present at an update meeting on a glorious summer day. Your audience’s minds are lying under palm trees, but you’re stepping up to the front. What to do?

The key here is variety. Here are 7 tips to mix things up every 7 minutes or so to combat hyper-short attention spans.

1. Mix up your Delivery

It’s hard to stay engaged with something that looks and sounds the same for a long period of time. What can you do?  Change something in your delivery, such as your speaking location, rate of speech, or body language.

2. Ask the Audience a Question

Engage your audience in relevant conversation, ask them for real-time input on your topic, or have them share their experiences. Adults like their knowledge acknowledged. Plus, this will re-engage a distracted audience.

3. Use Transitions Strategically

Transition phrases can help signal audience members’ brains to tune in and pay attention. They also make it easier for your audience to follow along with your story. Use transitions between main points, each slide, and different speakers to keep drawing your audience back to your message.

4. Consider Analogies or Metaphors

When you see your audience’s attention starting to wane, try using analogies or metaphors to explain complex ideas in simpler terms. This can make your presentation more accessible, easier to follow, and less likely to lull your audience to sleep.

5. Tell a Story

Everyone loves a good story – whether in preschool or the conference room. Prepare a relevant, engaging story to accompany your presentation – and plan to channel your inner storyteller at strategic moments to draw your audience in. 

6. Get Your Audience Laughing

Laughter is a remarkably powerful tool for engagement. Plan to inject some relevant laughs into your presentation – a funny story or a bit of self-deprecating humor can go a long way.  

7. Add Another Voice

Different voices and speaking styles can help break up the monotony of longer presentations. Another speaker can offer additional ideas, experiences, and examples to add a fresh perspective and keep the audience engaged.  

Audience distractions, from summer daydreams to incoming text vibrations, are here to stay. By deploying the tips above, you will have a better opportunity to capture – and keep – your audience’s attention. For more tips like these, follow us on LinkedIn.

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