Starting Now

It seems the average human attention span has taken a nosedive since the beginning of the 21st century. Research indicates that we can’t give a single topic our undivided attention for longer than eight seconds. And that makes us less focused than the average goldfish.

On the plus side, rapid-fire use of multiple media is making us far more effective multi-taskers. The ability to act quickly and focus that action is the key to success.

Success comes in many forms, of course, and this weekend brought us a parade of winners and losers in the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest. For decades it was believed that singing in English – the continent’s lingua franca – was the way to win Eurovision. That’s happening less and less, and it certainly didn’t happen on Saturday. Italy’s Måneskin and their song “Zitti E Buoni” scored 206 points from juries and 318 points from the viewing public for a resounding win. At the other end of the scale, the United Kingdom entry, “Embers” by James Newman scored nil points. Nada. Null. Zero. There are a number of reasons for this, of course, but social media platforms during and after the event made it clear that the Italian entry, colourful, raucous and fun, had made an immediate impression, while the UK’s, fittingly for a song titled Embers, was a slow burner.

Successful people find the words, the images and the medium to make a swift impact.

Does that sound like you? If not, shouldn’t it?

If it’s your job to share a corporate culture, to impart a company’s marketing message or its product data, then you have a wide range of tools available. And it makes sense to respect the communication preferences of your audience.

We can start by respecting their choice of communication device. Smartphones have left laptops and tablets far behind as the preferred device for online activity.

We should respect people’s preferred patterns for absorbing information. The “eight second” generation may well prefer to take quick, easily digestible bites of a subject.

And of course we should respect their choice of language. When we reach out to learners in Russia, Japan or China we need content that’s tailored, technically and culturally.

You have eight seconds to impress Oksana in St Petersburg. Or Haruto in Tokyo, or Li in Shanghai.

So what’s your plan?

Do your target customers want to read? Or do they want to listen and watch?

Creating short, snappy videos that can be viewed on a smartphone at any time may appeal to them far more directly than text. And depending on your subject,

  • Bullet points

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And different colours to signify different points

may all help to get your message across.

If you tailor your content, make it accessible from the device of choice and work with a translation management system that gives you the freedom to choose your own service partners and localise your message effectively for different languages and cultures, you should expect positive feedback. So seek it. If you’re offering e-learning, your mobile learners can give you an immediate thumbs up via apps which offers trainers the option for real-time questioning and assessment and opens the door for their students to provide swift, objective feedback on the course. You get to coach, interact and improve what you’re delivering and they get to learn, develop and keep you fully informed on how good a job they think you’re doing. Snappy, focused interaction isn’t the future of communication, it’s the present.

So what’s your plan? You have eight seconds to impress Oksana in St Petersburg. Or Haruto in Tokyo, or Li in Shanghai.