How can we encourage concentration?
How many times has someone been asked a question in a lecture but wasn’t paying attention?
We have all been there, and at times, been the one that wasn’t listening. Humans are not naturally good at paying attention and concentrating for long periods of time, particularly in settings such as education.
This inevitably presents a huge problem to anyone trying to teach, deliver training or even just a speech; how do you get people to actually listen to more than the first couple of minutes? Ideally, we want our participants or audience to listen, engage, absorb and reflect on the content we are discussing. Otherwise, if you’ve invested time and resource in developing a training programme, having a room full of day dreamers is going to be incredibly costly.
And online teaching is no different to traditional face to face methods. If anything, maintaining attention can be harder as there are more distractions and it’s easy to click away to a flashing advert in a sidebar. So how do we ensure people watch, pay attention, engage and reflect on material?
Here are some top tips that should help your audience stay with you throughout the presentation.
We all know that targets and goals help keep people focused in many areas of life. Delivering material online or in a training environment should be no different; not only does it help to break a large topic of section into smaller, more manageable sections, it can provide the audience with a sense of achievement when they get there. Having something to aim for is definitely an incentive to stay tuned in.
Another useful way to maintain an audience’s attention, is by giving them something they want to pay attention to! Jelly baby anyone?
If this is in a scenario where they may not have chosen to take part, for example at an employment training session, it can be harder to keep them interested. By using a variety of techniques, colour, images and other varying methods of presentation, you are ensuring it is as interesting as possible. If the audience is simply presented with pages and pages of text to read or click through they will switch off almost instantly.
One of the simplest ways to maintain an audiences attention is to engage with your audience and make the presentation interactive. This will ensure they are paying attention as they will want to know the answers. Moreover, it also provides an excellent opportunity for reflection and a chance to fill in any gaps in participants’ knowledge.
It’s also helpful to recognise that every learner or participant is completely different, and will find different areas interesting and challenging. It is impossible to have an entirely unique course or presentation for every person but variety can be included. Ensure there is a sufficient variation in the methods, levels of complexity and themes you use to communicate, to maintain interest from each person.
Different people will respond to different methods and somehow you need to incorporate a bit of each into the presentation, lecture, lesson or speech.
And one of the most powerful ways to keep learners engaged, is to simply ask people to reflect on the material. What are they enjoying, not enjoying, finding difficult? The only way to find out what is stopping people from paying attention throughout is to ask them. You can then adapt the material as necessary to ensure maximum engagement and attention next time, or if you’re really good – during the training!