“Concentration: collapsing! Shorten your story!” – #Futurist Jim Carroll
Studies have shown that the typical goldfish has a longer attention span than a human being. That’s a little nugget of insight I picked up a few years ago, and it’s #10 on my list Insight 2020 : Leadership Insight for the Era of Acceleration: Shorten Your Story. Attention spans have collapsed, concentration is decreasing, focus is failing, contemplation is cratering. Our thoughts are occupied by momentary bits of small bits of information that increasingly …… SQUIRREL!
We have all become Dug, the dog from Disney’s movie UP!
This is a very real and challenging issue both from a business as well as a personal perspective: regardless of the situation, you’ve got to shorten your story. It’s better to be succinct than to biovate!
How bad is it? One study suggests that 47% of our day is spent thinking about something other than we are we are currently doing. We have all become Dobie Gray. (OK Boomer!)
This requires crisper thinking on your part: the clarity of a complex message delivered in a short amount of time can increasingly become a factor in your overall success. The key skills going forward no longer involves your ability to master pulling together a 100 page report – it’s the ability to crystallize that insight into a half page synopsis in the very front. You won’t win your argument with a well crafted logical strategy of ten interconnected thought-chains : you’ve got 220 characters to win them over. Your ability to summarize things is probably one of your most important skills going forward.
Shorten your story! This has even impacted the way I approach many of my keynotes. Rather than 3 big themes that I explore in depth, I’ll hit some audiences with a rapid-fire overview of 25 major trends that are swirling around them. I can’t give them a chance to drift away… (another song reference for the young ones….)
Even memes are decreasing in longevity : you can actually find a very detailed report titled “Working Towards a Complete Theory of Meme Relativity.” I could tell you all about it but I simply skimmed it. It looked pretty good. I loved this line: “We are astronauts, struggling to remain conscious in a speeding centrifuge of content.” Then, I moved on. 30 seconds, tops.
And that’s the modern day challenge. People don’t read anymore – they are gaining insight in very different ways. They consume video, and do so, in vast chunks. That’s why I’m skewing my Web site more and more to video – such as this video series. And yet, for those who still read, I still write. If you made it this far – thank you for your attention! I know that many do not.
The bottom reality and the best guidance for our attention-deficit economy is found in a great Pink Floyd lyric snippet: short, sharp shocks. That’s what you’ve got to do with information as you work hard to shorten your story!