Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Holding Your Audience's Attention

A part of my business is training business professionals on the fine art of speaking and training within the context of their day to day work. The following tips are on how to hold the attention of a professional audience...

The average adult has a seven-minute attention span. Manage this by changing the way your group inputs information every 10-minutes or so. Options: listening to you, thinking about a situation, writing notes, discussing with a partner, group discussion, watching a video, etc.

Your employees have different preferred learning styles. Some are visual learners - they prefer to see information. Some are auditory learners – they prefer to hear or speak information. Some are kinesthetic learners – they prefer to feel information (either through physical or emotional movement). Your delivery methods should stimulate all three. Examples of how to stimulate each: visual – make notes on flip charts and hang them up around the room, auditory – allow the trainees to discuss with each other, kinesthetic – get them to move around the room every 30-minutes or so.

Attention fatigue can be heightened by the environment. To avoid this, try these strategies on: bright lights, cooler room, chairs that aren’t too comfortable, music playing, rotate meeting places, use your projector for videos/picture slide shows, sit your participants close to each other, put safe “play-toys” on the tables, etc.

Many trainees can be disconnected from the training because of unclear expectations or other misc. barriers to learning. Provide your group an opportunity to share their expectations for the day.

Keep your training or training-chunks short. Your trainings should not go longer than 90-minutes without a break.

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