Not surprisingly our average attention span from 2000 to 2015 has dropped from 12 to 8.25 seconds. However, researchers in Canada found that our attention spans have now been surpassed by that highly intelligent animal, the goldfish (9 seconds). Now you know why it’s so difficult to engage an audience.
When you are giving a 30 minute presentation, your audience’s mind is constantly drifting, thinking about their schedule or what to eat for lunch. Therefore you need to be prepared for continually getting their attention back to focusing on what you are saying.
The typical tips to recapture your audience’s attention are make eye contact, mention their name, modulate your voice and volume, but there is a technique that is opposite of what you would think would be effective… silence. It’s actually not effective to talk more, it’s more effective to talk less.
The 1960’s vocal group, the Tremeloes sang, “Silence is golden,” referring to lost love. But it is also true when doing presentations, pausing at normal punctuation marks (period or a comma), longer pauses to frame an important point, taking your time rather than rushing through it like a race. In your next speech, walk out on stage, stand for 3-5 seconds in silence and watch your audience’s reaction. You will be amazed that it rivets their attention to you.
Silence attracts attention. It certainly is golden.