Ever feel like you are presenting to goldfish and puppies?

Toddlers, goldfish and puppies are not the most especially attentive of audiences. But you can learn a lot from their attention spans. There’s short. And they won’t hang around if they feel bored.


Does your audience ever feel bored?  This often happens when you present too much information with not enough time to connect the dots with vivid examples and practical applications. The result? Very little digestion and a completely unmotivated audience.

Brain studies have shown that using graphics (images, charts, pictures) first while introducing a topic the retention and interest goes up. Digital natives – who have grown up with interactive technology (video games, internet) like to think in fast bursts. Use graphics to quickly show a path, overview a topic or summarise findings.


Goldfishes are not known for having long memories.  But to be honest, today’s audiences can often resemble goldfishes. But that’s your fault. Test it. Ask someone who has listened to your presentation one week later, what some of the key messages were and you will be amazed if they even remember listening to the presentation. Boring information is like watching paint dry: it takes up some time and then you forget all about it.  Instead of delivering a “watermelon” of information to your audience, use spaced learning techniques.  Help your audience recall key points but going back to them during the presentation, refreshing them after breaks, inserting colorful summary slides or graphics and giving quick “Q&A quizzes” throughout the day.  The more you create chances for your audience to deepen their understanding, the higher their memory retention.


(Wo)man’s best friend he may be, but a puppy can be a real handful. Puppies learn through play and massive amounts of interactivity. They bring a digital native attitude to learning.  Growing up playing PlayStation, Xbox, and countlesss other handheld consoles, digital natives expect all experiences to be “fun”. Work and learning included.

Yes. It’s important to treat yourself seriously and be good at what you do. But don’t treat your presentation too seriously if you want your audience to stay engaged and remember what your key messages are. Humour works.  But even if you are not that funny, high amounts of interactivity will help you keep your audience awake. Pop quizzes, short discussion, role plays, two-player face offs (PK games) will all help increase interaction and keep the energy alive!

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