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Is Anyone Paying Attention in Your Training?

Posted on Wed, January 27,2016 @ 10:28 AM

You may have heard the news: We humans now have a shorter attention span than goldfish. It was all over the media awhile back. Or perhaps something else caught your attention before you got to the meat of the story?

Anyway, goldfish have an attention span of nine seconds. Supposedly. We’re not sure how anyone can tell, considering fish always have a glassy stare. The human attention span has dropped below that of goldfish to 8.25 seconds, which is down from 12 seconds in 2000. Those who claim to know such things blame all the digital distractions we have in our lives. That makes sense, because few goldfish spend hours watching cat videos on their iPhones.

If you’re in the education and training business, this downward trend must have you worried. How often have you caught someone peaking at their phone during a class? If you’re doing a webinar where you can't see your audience, you know that’s going on constantly. So how can you keep people interested, even when it’s training they’re supposed to want and need?

Perhaps it’s time we all took a few tips from some of the most effective trainers the world has ever known—kindergarten teachers:  

  • Use lots of shiny things and noises. This doesn’t mean develop longer and therefore more boring PowerPoint Slides. However, it could mean strategic use of multimedia, such as music, sound effects, a kazoo, or a well-timed tambourine smack against the knee.
  • Schedule ample potty breaks. Even if they don’t need a bathroom break, encourage attendees to get up and stretch frequently. Have them flap their arms, do leg squats, or knock out a few jumping jacks, if you have to. Anything to keep the blood flowing.
  • Call in backup. Even if your voice is so authoritative it makes rabid wolverines pay attention, a second set of pipes can keep things fresh to the ear. If you can’t have someone on site, have them on video.
  • Turn it into a game. Gamification is a proven way to increase participation in training. What parts of your class time could be turned into a game with fun rewards?
  • Make them put away their toys before class begins. This one may lead to threats of mutiny or cold turkey sweats, but it’s worth a try to get everyone to put away their mobile devices during class. You don’t intend to waste their time and they shouldn’t waste yours by trying to multi-task. Stowing all devices signals their commitment for the time allotted.

There. We tried to keep this short. According to statistics, many of you have already diverted your attention elsewhere. If you’re still with us, however, please share some of your successful ideas on keeping the attention of trainees. Or perhaps you would like to learn more about robust online registration software. Anything to do with registration management software would get our attention. In any case, please use the form below.

By the way, did you hear we now have a shorter attention span…



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