A well-delivered message holds the audience’s attention and keeps them from reaching for their smart phones to text and do email. Unfortunately, this is becoming ever more challenging because audiences have ever shorter attention spans. Why? Because we are competing with the addiction to the electronic gadgets in their pockets and purses, and soon, on their wrists too. Some will try to hide their device under the table, and others will just pull them right out in the open. If “monkey see, monkey do” sets in, we may lose the entire room.
To help cope with this, I’d like to introduce a new metric: Time-to-Device, or simply TTD.
TTD is the measure of how long you have before people began reaching for their mobile devices.
Frankly, it’s probably impossible to expect that people will never reach for their phones. Everyone’s attention span has a limit, and for many, habitually checking messages and email is engrained behavior. Realistically however, when we’re presenting well, we should be able to manage TTD somewhere into the 30 to 45 minute range, on average. Unless we’re doing something very wrong, we have a very good chance of holding most people’s attention for the first half hour of a presentation. Great presenters can stretch it even longer. However when our delivery is not crisp, our manner is not engaging, or our content is just plain boring, TTD will gradually diminish to 0 where we lose people much earlier, and possibly for the entire presentation.
Tip 3 therefore, is to be aware of, and do everything possible to maximize TTD. If we are to communicate effectively and help our audience, we must strive to hold their attention. We do that by observing all 25 tips in this manifesto.
This post is part of the series “The Presenter’s Manifesto”. You can find the beginning of the series here: Presenter’s Manifesto – Prologue