"Attention Span?" How about calling it "Attention Limit?"
The latest research tells us that our amount of attention is limited, just like our amount of cash (unless your Buffet or Gates). We cannot expand our attention like we can our waistlines...it just is not possible. So, we may have to rethink this whole "multi-tasking" thing.
Let's face it, if you are driving a car in traffic, then it requires your undivided attention. Don't fool yourself by thinking you can do a good job of driving and talking on your phone at the same time, unless you are on a deserted highway. You really can't contribute your best during a meeting if you are tapping away on your PDA. It just is not possible.
So, why do we do it? Why do we dilute our attention on multiple important tasks simultaneously? One explanation could be that as a species, we are naturally attracted to distractions. The invention of the book helped us to focus our attention on one area for an extended period of time. Now, technology is taking us back to a more primitive state. Is this a good thing?
Oh wait, just got a text...be back in a sec.
Okay, I'm back...what was I saying? Oh yeah, it is important to manage our attention just like any other valuable resource. If we pay attention (notice the word "pay"), then we should get something of value in return. If we ask for attention, then we should give something of value in return.
As presenters, remember to manage the valuable attention in the room. Here are some frequent goofs that presenters make when it comes to attention management:
1. Talk while asking the audience to fill out a form.
2. Open blinds to hallways and allow others to peer in.
3. Leave irrelevant information on white boards or flip charts.
4. Distribute information that we are not going to cover until a later time.
5. Load up PowerPoint slides with text because we are too lazy to rehearse.
I could go on and on, but you get the idea.
My phone is ringing, gotta go!