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Attention spans not shrinking, just evolving says new report

Nov 02 2018 14:00

Attention is the real currency at work in the information age, according to the 2018 State of Attention Report released by UK presentation platform Prezi.

The report looks at how practices such as multitasking impacts people’s ability to retain information and what marketers can do to create more engaging material.

Respondents reported that they have increased attention spans but have become more selective in the content they choose to consume. About 58% of professionals say they can give a piece of content their undivided attention without getting distracted, more now than they could one year ago. About 42% admit they’ve become more selective about the content they consume.

According to the report, the key to engaging content is a compelling story and visuals.

Nearly 85% of respondents said a strong narrative or the story (81%) behind what’s being presented is critical in maintaining the engagement of their audience. Over a third (34%) of business professionals say a great story captures their focus and keeps them engaged with content.

With regards to presentations, 73% of business professionals said the use of animated visuals in presentations is effective in keeping the audience engaged.

Improved focus

According to the survey, respondents felt their ability to maintain focus has actually improved over time, despite an ever-growing mountain of available content.

The report says this demonstrates that the attention of business professionals can be captured for long periods of time with compelling content that includes great stories and interesting, gripping visuals.

"Attention is critical. Without the ability to narrow our focus, we can’t be expected to learn new things, to retain information, or to do our jobs to the best of our ability," states the report.

"If we as business folk hope to maintain and grow our successes, creating content that reflects the way people consume information is absolutely crucial." It suggests that attention spans aren’t shrinking — they’re simply evolving."

Top tips to improve focus:

  • Stop multitasking: Don’t try to do your best work while checking email, texting, and posting to Instagram. Your brain can’t do that.
  • Exercise: You know it’s good for your body and your brain is part of your body.
  • Meditate: It is attention training.
  • Use mother nature: Looking at a picture of a tree is like a deep tissue massage for your brain.
  • Reduce interference: Remove anything from your environment that might distract you. Batch email and social media. Extend the time between breaks to build your attention muscles.

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tech  |  marketing
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