Audience members’ attention will fade over time unless you take specific steps to keep them engaged.
Here’s a graph showing the attention of university students during a 50 minute lecture—during which the lecturer lost his audience. (Reference: Hartley J and Davies I “Note taking: A critical review”)
Notice that at 40 minutes the attention seems to go up again (just a little). I’m guessing that this is the point where the lecturer started his sentence with, “In summary…”
The students perked up their ears again and refocused to get the gist of the lecture. Here’s what happened—the lecturer stumbled upon the audience’s Attention Reset Button. Although our attention span is limited, we do have the ability to refocus on a task. When you push the Attention Reset Button, you’re giving your audience that opportunity to refocus.
So, that’s what you must do when you’re losing your audience. Push your audience’s Attention Reset Button. Instead of fading to near zero, your audience’s attention will spring back.
How often should you push the Attention Reset Button?