Want to Capture Your Attendee’s Attention? Make Your Message Short.
Oct 08, 2012 by DeDe Mulligan

interactive meetingTheater style seating arranged. Check. PowerPoint presentation equipment set up. Check. Speaker has arrived and sound and lighting rental units tested. Check, check, and check. You have the outward appearance of a fantastic meeting that is going to last 2 hours –without any interaction or breaks. Your plan is to put your attendees or employees in a semi-dark room to listen to a subject matter expert. What does this format remind you of? You got it…school!

Most planners organize meetings in the same fashion they were taught since they started school in kindergarten — by sitting down and listening. But a recent Time magazine article titled "Why Long Lectures are Ineffective" sited two studies which confirm that this is not the optimal way to learn. 

The first study stated that most people do the following when they are in a lecture environment: 

It takes 3 to 5 minutes to settle down in their chairs before any learning begins

Followed by 

10 to 18 minutes of optimal focus by the attendee

Followed by

A lapse in learning for some period of time

Followed by

3 to 4 minutes of focus 

And the last two items (lapse and focus) continue until the end of the program. 

The second study tested participants on their recall of facts from a 20-minute presentation. Most attendees recalled the material presented in the first 15 minutes, but zoned out for the last 5. 

So what can meeting planners take away from this information? Here are 7 useful tips for your next meeting, conference or training session:

  1. Set up your room so people can naturally interact and network with each other. Putting people in rounds or in circles can create a low-key atmosphere. Make sure attendees can easily see, hear and talk with each other. 
  2. Use the first 3-5 minutes of your presentation to share housekeeping notes, identify sponsors, or to tell a joke. Keep it light, fun and airy. 
  3. Have the speaker deliver the "meat of their message" in the next 10 minutes. 
  4. Use the following 10 minutes or so for discussion and peer interactivity.  Rent iPads for each attendee or place an iPad on each table and allow attendees to discuss the information just presented to them. Post questions on Twitter or Facebook and have them answer the questions independently or in a small group of 4 to 8 people. 
  5. The speaker can talk again for another 4 minutes. 
  6. Followed by 10 minutes of collaboration. 
  7. Repeat steps 5 & 6 until you time is up. 

When meeting planners free themselves from a lecture-style format, attendees will control the pace and learning process thus allowing them to retain more of the information. Learning will go from passive to interactive in just a few easy steps! 

AV Event Solutions, a California meeting equipment supplier, has presentation services audio visual equipment and iPads available to rent for your next training session, sales meeting, or conference. Contact them today to learn more about their equipment offerings. 

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