What Presenters can Learn from Goldfish

Our attention span has fallen to 8 seconds,  according to studies cited by Microsoft Canada. Goldfish reportedly have a longer attention span than us! So, what does this mean for your next presentation? Every second counts.

Here are two tips to hook your audience quickly:

Engage them from the start.

Don’t waste your early seconds with a dull “I am pleased to be here today to talk about our need to innovate…” – there’s no time for that. Instead, open with a startling statistic, thought-provoking question, relevant story, or compelling visual to hook your audience and get them excited about your topic!

I need to make a confession at the outset here. A little over 20 years ago, I did something that I regret, something that I’m not particularly proud of. Something that, in many ways, I wish no one would ever know, but here I feel kind of obliged to reveal.

(Dan Pink’s 2009 TEDGlobal Talk)

Answer why they should care – right up front!

Familiar with the old WIIFM acronym? “What’s in it for me?” It’s going to help answer why your audience should care. Identify what matters most to your audience, through the “What’s in it for me?” lens.

In Jane McGonigal’s 2012 TED Talk, her opening statistic informs audience members they’ll live longer by listening to her talk – that’s a pretty compelling WIIFM:

You will live 7.5 minutes longer than you would have otherwise, just because you watched this talk.”

For your next presentation, think of gold fish and remember just how short an audience’s attention span is. Incorporating these two opening tips will help engage the audience – from the very first seconds of your next presentation.

Recommended Posts