I just saw an infographic that says the average human attention span has dropped from 12 minutes ten years ago to 5 seconds. FIVE. SECONDS. There was no credible source material related to that statistic so I can’t speak to its accuracy, but I will definitely agree that the average human attention span (at least in America) is short and getting shorter.
Meanwhile, associations are in the business of people. That shortening attention span is bound to become a problem for you at some point… or is it? Here are some ways that your association can keep up with the flickering minds of your members and emerging leaders (who may have a shorter attention span, still!)
1) The infographic says that the decrease in attention span has to do with the way we consume media. Again, there are no sources here so I can’t be sure, but it makes sense. How many times have you checked your E-mail or social media since you began reading this blog? I can’t tell you how many times I have checked mine since I started writing. It’s a combination of the fascination with “multitasking” and a tremendous distraction. How can your association capitalize on that? Without being pesky or spammy, make an earnest effort to be in front of those wandering eyeballs at all times. Have a regular E-mail presence, social media presence, and see if you can find your way regularly onto the radar. That way your association can become part of the multitasking, instead of being the victim of eyes wandering away.
2) People space out in meetings regardless of their attention span. Take a look at your normal agenda. Can you mix it up? Do you change topics often, or do you spend a lot of time talking about one? Are the meetings interactive, or more like presenter/audience? Think about if a more dynamic meeting structure will still meet your needs.
3) Finally, what are you doing to keep your events fresh and attention grabbing? Your events definitely have to match your membership, but too many calm mixers or social hours could get boring. Could you do a movie screening (bonus points for outdoor!) or some other kind of interactive team building that your members will love without distracting too much from the business of networking? Think about it, and ask for suggestions!
Really this is less about attention span and more about engagement. It’s tough to stay on everyone’s radar, especially when your audience all have full time jobs, families, and other obligations. But having engaged, happy members are what’s going to drive the future of your association to success the rest of this year and beyond! Now go check your E-mail.
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