3 Keys to Stronger Audience Retention

Your audience will only remember a small percentage of what you say. Some studies suggest it will be less than 20%.


Other studies suggest that the average adult attention span is now about 8 seconds.


So what do you do about it?

We could simply surrender, and assume that this is the new world and be happy with absurdly low retention rates and offensively short attention spans. OR… we could try to differentiate ourselves, and get heard in a meaningful way. So, for the next few moments, let’s focus on that.

So, how do we become the person who can get heard, and have our audience retain what we say? By focusing on all three aspects of the audience experience:

  1. Make sure you prepare your content so that the most important messages are clear. They won’t remember everything, so make sure you know what you want and need them to remember. If you don’t know what your key points are, neither will they.
  2. Make sure your slides are simple, clear, consistent, and reinforce those same key messages. Build the slides (or whatever reinforcement documents you have) from the perspective of the audience. Think about what would engage and be valuable for them.
  3. Make sure your delivery is easy to digest, and that you are using techniques that will help your audience focus on those same key messages. Use techniques like “speaking in bullet points,” and list the key information out. Pause once in a while — we call this “speaking in periods” — to give them time to absorb what they are hearing. Little techniques like these can go a LONG way.

If any aspect of the audience experience makes it hard to retain the key information, then retention will drop. Audience retention is hard to accomplish. To achieve it, you must identify what is most important and then make sure you are reinforcing those key messages in every possible way.

Sounds obvious, right? Now think about how often you listen to someone who has a crystal clear message, AND has simple and clear slides, AND has great delivery? How often does that actually happen? Let me answer that for you… not very often at all.

It is harder than it sounds, and it takes some work.

But if you get it done, you will stand out amidst the crowd, your message will resonate and you will have competitive advantage.

Have a great day.

Does your team:
– Take too long to make decision?
– Fail to ask for what it wants or needs from you?
– Make things too complicated?
– Deliver unconvincing or disorganized presentations?
– Have new hires who are unprepared to communicate in the workplace?

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Brett Slater

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.