Attract Students’ Attention in 30 Seconds or Less

Better Beginnings: How to attract students’ attention in 30 seconds or less

Presented by Dr. Carmen Taran

Thanks to the eLearning Guild

Update: The recording of the session is now available.

Official description:

Information overload, tripletasking, hyperchoice, and short attention spans are just a few of the symptoms of the modern client. Because so many forces compete for one’s focus, we often need to catch students’ attention in a matter of seconds. Join this presentation to learn how to construct better beginnings of your messages so that you attract attention in 30 seconds or less.

These are my live blogged notes from the session. Any awkward wording, incomplete thoughts, typos, etc. are my errors, not the speaker’s.  My comments in italics.

Water Drop & shadow
Can you grab your learners' attention faster than the water drop will hit the ground?

Three things to keep in mind

  1. What you show
  2. What you say
  3. How you say it

What You Show

  • Staged and cliched images set a certain tone for your session
  • No SGS (Stupid Generic Shots)

Avoid Fake Photography

  • Know the context
  • Research for specifics
  • Use metaphors: you have to think through these so it isn’t just cliche
  • Zoom in: even with generic photos, you can focus on a small part and get a different feel
  • Add a human touch: images without technology
  • Draw on top of images: If you take a generic photo but do hand drawings on top of it, it tones down the generic feel. This probably requires a graphic designer though, especially for anything extensive. Tom Kuhlmann has done some samples with hand drawn bubbles, fonts, etc., that I think would give you some of the same effect without the use of a graphic designer.
  • Incongruity draws people in: Take your audience along one path, then twist it

Question: Where do you go to find images?

Answer (all but the 1st two from participants):

Question: What if you don’t have a graphic designer?

Answer: Use any image program, draw in software like Adobe Connect

Too often, we create presentations and training in a hurry. Hurrying leads to cliches.

You won’t do this for everything, but take the time for quiet reflection for the important presentations.

Your very first slide should be better than just a title and a sidebar image

  • Your first slide may acknowledge what the audience is worried about
  • Watch your words on the first slides

Titles matter

Vulnerability Analysis: What happens if things go wrong? Images can be about things going wrong, not just smiling people

Serendipity: If you come across an image that really speaks to you as you look through the databases, save it, even if you don’t know where you’ll use it yet.

Wabi-Sabi: Calm, tranquil, touched by nature, imperfect, simple, room around it for movement, not sterile

What You Say

We often revert to corporate speak.

Would you sit through your own training session? Would you want to listen to it again?

Don’t romanticize or try to hide the truth behind corporate speak. Say it like it is.

People are afraid to commit or be accountable.

“If they can’t repeat it, they didn’t get it.”

How You Say It

The power of your voice helps you connect to your audience

Imagine what happened right before the session started, imagine their setting. The image you hold in your mind immediately affects your voice. Mental image affects your tone.

Be committed to the message

The same part of your brain that handles gestures handles tone. Use your hands when you talk, even if people can’t see you.

Don’t read a script unless you are a trained actor

Use real emotions in your voice

4 thoughts on “Attract Students’ Attention in 30 Seconds or Less”

  1. Pingback: My History of Live Blogged Notes | Experiencing E-Learning

  2. usablelearning

    Thanks for posting this, Christy! I wanted to catch this one, but couldn’t free up the time, so it’s really nice to get the highlights.

    1. There were some good tips about choosing images in general, not just as attention grabbers in the beginning. I’ve got a storyboard right now that is making me struggle to come up with good image choices, but I think I have some new ideas now for searches.

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