Commonly, it is estimated that an average adult has a focused attention span ranging from approximately 10 to 20 minutes. This is an important consideration when it comes to hosting your meeting and ensuring that it is productive. Ensuring that people’s attention is renewed regularly is essential to holding your delegates attention. Have you considered these things before hosting your meeting?
Why is the meeting important?
Delegates are far more likely to give you their attention and focus if they know the reason that they are there and what they will get out of the session. It is important that attendees feel that their participation is required and valued as they are more likely to engage in the session. It can be quite easy to include people when they are not actually required. No one likes attending a meeting to read information and just be a listener, so ensure that everyone in attendance is there for a purpose and it is important for them.
Am I including all participants?
The simplest way of ensuring you are including all meeting attendees is to ensure they are aware of the meeting topics before the event. This gives everyone involved time to think about what they would like to discuss and contribute to the meeting. Using participatory discussion and actively encouraging the sharing of opinions shows attendees that they are valued and thus are more likely to participate actively. It is also important that before the meeting is adjourned to ask if anyone has any further comments or questions.
Is your meeting content one dimensional?
Participants tend to respond better to a variety of content and maintain attention for longer when the content type is diverse. It is a good idea to mix up your meeting content to engage all senses. This doesn’t have to be extravagant productions but simple changes to visuals, meeting topics, activity, position or presenters. Even something as straightforward as regularly changing attendee’s engagement from listening to you to having an open discussion can help to maintain the attention of people for a longer period of time.
How long will your meeting take?
When possible, it is advised to reduce the length of your meetings as it is easier to hold participants attention for a shorter amount of time. However, this isn’t always possible. There will always be occasions when meetings require in depth discussion and therefore will go on for a longer period of time. If this is the case then consider the motivation of the meeting; take regular breaks so that people can regain motivation, walk around to recover energy or simply relax for a moment to gather your thoughts.
Are you sitting comfortably?
Put simply, if your delegates aren’t comfortable then they’re unlikely to maintain their focus. If people are uncomfortable then they are more likely to be focusing on that than paying attention to the meetings proceedings. The comfort of your delegates also extends to the environment the meeting is being held in. Natural daylight and sufficient air-conditioning are both important factors when considering the happiness of people in a meeting environment.