“Humans have shorter attention spans than goldfish…”
That was the recent headline in The Telegraph (but it was also reported by Time and The New York Times). It comes from a study conducted in 2015 by Microsoft that says the average human’s attention span has dropped to 8 seconds – less than a goldfish’s 9 second attention span.
That means that your job as a conference or event organizer just got that much tougher!
Blame it on smart phones (like Microsoft did), the Internet or whatever else you like, but the fact remains that your event attendees are used to constant stimulation and are likely to get bored VERY QUICKLY. The more bored they get, the worse they’ll feel about your event. It’s really that simple.
While there may be many causes, here are the three greatest reasons that your audiences are getting bored (beyond just the lack of attention) – and what you can do about it:
Boredom Causer #1: Same Old Story
They’ve heard it all before. The same speakers, talking about the same things. Or perhaps worse, all different speakers…still talking about the same things. You need to shake it up and find new, fresh ideas to bring to your audience. It needs to be stuff that they’ve never heard (or at least heard very little about). And the easiest way to do that is to find topics and ideas that will challenge how they think and how they look at the world.
Boredom Causer #2: Focused on Today
Your attendees receive a daily deluge about what is happening right now. Every day. All day. If it’s happening right now, they almost certainly know about it. Whether it’s what’s happening in the news or the latest from your industry, by the time that topic gets to your event, it’s already old news. If you want to keep your attendees attention, you need to be focused on the future – on the things that they don’t know about yet. In the era of the 8 second attention span, the future sells.
Boredom Causer #3: Lack of Engagement
The third boredom causer is the real reason, underneath the covers, that your attendees get bored: they’re not engaged. Everything from movies to television shows to video games clamor for their interaction. They now expect to be part of the show – not to just be a passive audience. So when your speakers get up and simply talk to them, they get bored. There are two answers to this challenge. First, get speakers who go out of their way to engage their audiences. Second, take the issue of engagement into your own hands and lead the charge!
To help with this last bit, we’ve created a Free Checklist: The 4 Moments of Audience Engagement which outlines the four key moments which present engagement opportunities and shares with you ideas on how to use them to your advantage.
As an event organizer, it’s critical that you’re audiences feel excited about what they hear and engaged with your event. But you need to hurry. You’ve only got 8 seconds!