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Attention Deficit

In this time of information overload, who isn’t suffering a bit from attention deficit? 

Recently, I noticed in a meeting that over a third of the attendees had their laptops open in front of them. What a great way to multi task! Not only could they watch the presentation, but at the same time they could catch up on email and get other work done. Some of us were a little more subtle, using our mobile phones to stay connected with the rest of the world for the entire hour we were in the meeting. Regardless of method – isn’t it true we likely missed something from the presentation? 

My church recently started a series about paying attention – or not – making the point that we often only half look and half see because we’re too preoccupied with other things.

“From the time we were children we were told to “pay attention,” as if this were the simplest thing in the world. But in fact attentiveness is one of the most difficult concepts to grasp and one of the hardest disciplines to learn. For we are very distractible people in a very distracting world.” Leighton Ford, The Attentive Life

Linda Stone, writer and consultant, uses the term Continuous Partial Attention to describe a state where workers fade in and out while conducting other activities. 

This idea of not paying complete attention struck a chord. I know that there are times when I should be more focused on the situation at hand. Our partial attention or partial inattention is not inherently a bad thing. But, in my example above, the presenter was competing with e-mails, instant messaging and other work related distractions. Really – how much would someone miss if they disconnect from email during a one hour session?

As a customer advocate, how do you keep your information users engaged and attentive enough so they will take action? Some ideas for communicating in a way to maintain attention include:

·         Be creative – Look for fresh and creative ways to get your message across

·         Be targeted – Have a focused message

·         Be clear – Communicate a manageable amount so the message is heard

·         Use variety – Mix it up by leveraging existing communications and use multiple methods to communicate your message

·         Make it accessible – Make sure you have a way for information users to have access to the information in the way they need it to keep them engaged

There’s no magic bullet, but recognizing the potential for distractions or giving only partial attention is half the battle, isn’t it?

 

Kitty Radcliff
Vice President

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