The Attention Retention Battle: How to Win with Meeting and Event Attendees

Eight seconds.

That’s the often cited claim how long the human attention span has become now – making it less than that of a goldfish, which is nine seconds.

While this drop in attention retention has been in the headlines for years, many stories debunk the claim. One popular explanation? Attention span isn’t really shrinking—we’re just more selective in what we give our attention to. After all, who among us hasn’t had an hour-long binge-a-thon of “Stranger Things,” “Game of Thrones“ or “Killing Eve”?

Prezi, a presentation software company, tested the theory in the 2018 State of Attention Report:

  • 59 percent of professionals say they can give a piece of content their undivided attention without getting distracted more now than they could a year ago.
  • 49 percent admit they’ve become more selective about the content they consume.

However, as also illustrated by Prezi’s research, 95 percent of business professionals admit to multitasking during meetings and around one-third of these multitaskers lost track of (37 percent) or had trouble retaining (31 percent) information that was being discussed.

The battle rages on for planners to find the best way to keep and retain attendees’ attention throughout a meeting or event. Here are four ideas planners can use to win the attention retention battle.

Kick-off with an unexpected icebreaker

There’s nothing like getting and retaining attendees’ attention with an unexpected icebreaker moment. Perhaps a high-energy music performance begins your event or an unannounced special keynote speaker drops for an element of surprise to get things started.

Kicking off on a high-note can also be as simple as an icebreaker poll pushed out through your event app. Not only does this get everyone comfortable with using event tech, but it also sends an immediate signal that the experience is going to be different – and attendees should keep paying attention for another unexpected moment.

Add interactivity with polls and surveys

Once you have an audience’s attention, the focus shifts to keeping their minds engaged. Change is key to getting and holding attention – and polls and surveys are just one way to add mix things up.

Event apps, like Evenium’s ConnexMe, that have built-in polls and survey results that can be displayed to the entire group give speakers and audiences a chance to interact with each other. Plus, polls and surveys help reinforce key learnings and important takeaways – another effective strategy in the battle for attention retention.

Make slide content highly visual

Our brains pick up on visuals faster, and images help improve memory and recall. To keep attention retention high, encourage speakers to use highly visual content that supports their story or message instead of an endless parade of bullet points.

Session content can also become more visual through the use of live annotations. Attendees post comments or answer questions for the group to see, which keeps everyone continually engaged.

Give meeting and event attendees a voice throughout

Don’t just wait for the Q&A session to give attendees their say. Encourage participation throughout to keep attention retention high.

For example, with ConnexMe attendees can provide real-time feedback about the most valuable takeaways or content areas of most interest. Planners can then use the information to make adjustments on the fly throughout the rest of the event.

Assign a task or homework

Remember back to school days when teachers warned you’d be called on at any time? Talk about a surefire strategy to keep everyone paying attention!

The same concept applies to meeting and event attendees. Warn the audience in advance that they’ll have to do something either during the session or at the end. Make it a fun task or assign a simple concept and they’ll stay attentive throughout.

Meeting and event attendees are more selective about what they give their attention. Planners need to adopt different strategies to keep and retain interest.

Contact Evenium for a demo to learn more about winning the attention retention battle and the benefits of using an app with your meeting or event.

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