Digital Publishing
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Attention spans aren’t shrinking – they’re evolving

Attention spans are not shrinking, rather they are evolving to be more selective, according to a new research study from Prezi, the presentation platform. The 2018 State of Attention Report, which measures the effectiveness of content and how it resonates across demographics, found that the key to engaging content is a compelling narrative combined with stimulating visuals and dialogue.

According to the survey, respondents felt their ability to maintain focus has actually improved over time, despite an ever-growing mountain of available content. 

More than two thousand business professionals across the UK participated in the study, conducted by Censuswide. Key findings include:

1. Respondents reported that they have increased attention spans, but have become more selective in the content they choose to consume:

  • Six out of ten (58%) professionals say they can give a piece of content their undivided attention without getting distracted, more now than they could one year ago.
  • 42% admit they’ve become more selective about the content they consume.

2. The key to engaging content is a compelling story and visuals:

  • Nearly 9 in 10 respondents said a strong narrative (85%) or the story (81%) behind what’s being presented is critical in maintaining the engagement of their audience.
  • Over a third (34%) of business professionals say a great story captures their focus and keeps them engaged with content.
  • In regards to presentations,73% of business professionals said the use of animated visuals in presentations is effective in keeping the audience engaged.

3. The costs of not keeping attention for business professionals are high:

  • 86% of business professionals say they multitask during meetings.
  • Around one-third (30%) of these multitaskers lose track of what was being discussed and have trouble retaining the information that was being discussed.
  • One in five (19%) admit multitasking in meetings has caused them to make an error in their work.

“Our attention spans being shorter than a goldfish’s is a grossly inaccurate rumour. These days it’s common to binge-watch a series for six or more hours, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to pay attention in a meeting,” says Nadjya Ghausi, vice president of marketing at Prezi. “We at Prezi believe that attention spans aren’t shrinking — they’re simply evolving, and the time to cater to new preferences isn’t tomorrow; it’s now.”