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The 90-Second Rule for Presenting

You may have heard a statistic that a goldfish’s attention span is 9 seconds and now, due to the rise of digital media and devices, the average human attention span clocks in at a mere 8 seconds, effectively making us less focused than our small aquatic friends. Don’t worry, you can rest easy my friends. This statistic is false. It was based on the average time someone in 2008 stayed on a website they clicked on after discovering that site in a search result. Comparing that activity to goldfish was quite the stretch. The reality is that humans can pay attention for long periods. 73% of people have binge-watched a show on Netflix for 5 hours or longer. This means that when content is engaging, people have no problem paying attention to the message or task at hand. This is good news for you and your business since you are often in situations where you require someone’s attention. A listing presentation, explaining a purchase or representation agreement, and sending out marketing messages, are all examples of this. While we are not Steven Spielberg, there are a few things we can do to craft our messages and presentations better to keep people engaged and in a better position to hear your message. One way to do this is by considering the 90-Second Rule. Every 90 seconds, do something to engage your audience. Here are a few ideas to get you started: Tell a Story: Like our Netflix example, storytelling is one of the most fundamental ways to capture attention and create engagement. Tell a story about a past client or situation where a challenge was overcome or the outcome resulted in a critical lesson to be learned. Ask a Question: Get them reflecting or talking. Rhetorical or otherwise, questions immediately bring people in and create participation in the conversation. Induce Movement: Have them do something. Stop your presentation to fill in a part of the agreement. Break up your conversation for a tour of their home. Add Humour: Good-natured humour that induces laughter will release endorphins and not only make your audience/clients feel good but will re-engage their attention. Create Novelty: Got a fun or interesting fact? A new way to display the data? Visually striking marketing materials? Try to do something new and interesting to make people sit up and take notice. Take a look at the times in your business when you are engaging with or presenting to someone for longer than a minute or two. Then, using the ideas above, be deliberate about adding engaging moments every 90 seconds or so to keep your audience fully present and engaged.

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