Time to Pay Attention

Time to Pay Attention
January 14, 2009

In our Presentation Best Practices Tutorial, we talk about the average length that your on-demand multimedia business communication should be. We vary the recommendation based on the audience and the purpose of the presentation. This best practice was originally born from the viewing behavior data at Brainshark.com. Based on thousand of presentations created and the corresponding views, we could easily observe the trend toward brevity in business communication. What we also notice is that those who are creating the content are lagging behind those who are viewing. What I mean is that the average presentation length has always exceeded the average presentation view by more than 25%. It is time for content creators to pay attention.

Let me add more data for you to consider.

Like millions of other parents, I have a child with ADHD. We knew this about him since he was about 2 ½ years old. He shares this diagnosis along with millions of other children and by the estimate of WebMD "That translates into 4% of the US adult population, or 8 million adults. However, few adults are identified or treated for adult ADHD." Why do I bring it up? Who do you send your presentations to on a daily basis? Whoever they are, it appears that at least 4% of them have ADHD. Even if your content is good and they really want to pay attention - they struggle to do just that.

In 2008, according to comScore, 5.4 billion online videos were viewed on Google, with 98% of those views occurring on YouTube. This represents more than 147 million US internet viewers who watch an average of 92 videos per month. The duration of the average online video was 3 minutes.

And finally, according to Lloyd's TSB in London, "A survey of 1,000 adults by Lloyds TSB showed that the average attention span had fallen from more than 12 minutes a decade ago to five minutes and seven seconds now."

Take the above data and add to that the fact that all media has transformed itself to deliver smaller, faster bites (or bytes) of information in an effort to give the people what they want. Newscasts are shorter; TV shows are faster with more frequent scene changes, movies have more action, more crashes, more stimulation. Looking for proof? Just go back and watch an episode of Bonanza or Andy Griffith and you will find yourself twitching to hit the remote.

Put it all together and you have to come to the conclusion that we did a few years ago. People are busy and they are distracted, BUT they still need and want information. Give it to them in the time frame they can digest and the on-demand multi-media format they want and make your communication successful. Keep your slides to 30 seconds just like TV changes scenes quickly. Keep them as concise as possible just like millions of people do when they want their YouTube video to make the top ten. Accept that people are not likely to watch a 30 minute, 20 minute, 15 minute presentation in a single sitting, because that is either not what we do or we are simply incapable.

Pay Attention to the audience and they will pay attention to you.