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BLOGSocial Attention Span

by Randall CraigFiled in: Blog, Communication, Make It Happen Tipsheet, PresentationsTagged as: , ,

How long is your attention span?  How long is the attention span of your clients, colleagues, or kids?  The conventional wisdom is that it is very short – 30 seconds – the length of a typical TV commercial.  Supposedly, the attention span of a Gen-Xer is even shorter.

Thankfully, both of these urban legends are wrong – very wrong.  The attention span is highly variable, but is dependent on two key factors, both of which are under your control:

1) The number of competing distractions, and

2) Whether the content and delivery are relevant and interesting.

Consider the last time you went to a blockbuster movie: how many people were talking, texting, or doing anything except being completely engaged in the action on-screen?  Or the last time you sat down with a great book: did you snuggle down to read for more than 30 seconds? You probably couldn’t put it down.

If you want people’s attention, then don’t waste time with what’s important to you – give them what they need, in a format that they want.  Too often, when people market their services, they get louder and louder in order to be heard above the noise.  When they do this, they unwittingly become part of the problem.

How long do you keep people’s attention?  If it is shorter than you like, make your message more relevant to them, deliver it professionally, and do it in an environment that is conducive to a conversation.


Look at the status updates you’ve received today on LinkedIn or Facebook: what percentage actually engage you?  Then look at your own: are you increasing the attention span of your connections, or are you just adding to the noise?  Do better by being more relevant, in your posts and emails.

Marketing insight:  The most common marketing mistake is to focus on the product, instead of the prospect.  It’s no surprise that TV commercials are so short (and getting shorter): the vast majority of them are of zero value to the viewer.  It’s not that attention spans are short, its that consumers are getting smarter (and faster) at discerning relevancy.

Does this topic resonate? Reach out to Randall: he can present it to your group.  (More presentation topics)
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