You might have experienced occasions, as a participant within a learning event or meeting, where you struggled a bit to maintain focus or energy. Studies have shown a range of time within which our attention span remains high – otherwise known as engaged/involved / learning. This shift in energy is ‘normal’. There is an effective solution. People need variety in order to keep their interest in a topic. This directly impacts the ability to learn and remain engaged in the conversation.
It is the responsibility of the facilitator to be conscious of this fact. Knowing this, you can create process steps, within your agenda, that support the types of variations needed to ensure learning is actively supported and the attention and energy remain high.
Research has discovered that people can listen with some level of understanding for as much as 90 minutes. However, they can only retain what they hear for up to 20 minutes. The remaining key factor is that they need to be fully involved (active, not passive) in some way, every 8 minutes within the conversation.
Thus, the ’20 Minute Rule’. Every 20 minutes, make certain you are changing the process, tempo, movement, topic, activity (i.e. pairs, small groups, exercises, question and answer, report outs, etc.) which ensure no one can ‘check out’ and go into ‘cruise mode’.