“You know what the happiest animal in the world is? It’s a goldfish. It’s got a 10 second memory.”
If this is true, humans must be incredibly happy. Because, when it comes to attention spans, we are all goldfish now.
Microsoft conducted research into how our attention spans have changed during the digital age, and the results were shocking. They found that the average attention span dropped from about 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2015. Humans now rank behind the lowly goldfish.
In other words, you’re in a constant battle for your learners’ attention. You probably feel it yourself – the temptation to check your phone’s notifications, to refresh your social media feed… or even to snack on some delicious, fish-shaped crackers.
How did we get here? What external forces have compressed our attention spans? And, more importantly, how can we adapt our training strategies to this new normal and meet our learners where they are?
How Did We Lose to a Goldfish?
Our attention spans last broke double digits in the year 2000. Since then technology has progressed at a dizzying rate.
From 2000 to 2020, use of the internet increased by 1,266%. Over 85% of Americans now own a smartphone and the typical person spends an average of 6 hours and 55 minutes on the internet each day. That’s the equivalent of 100 days spent online per year.
The Myth of Multitasking
The Microsoft study found that in a world of information overload, our attention spans decreased, and we got better at multitasking.
However, better multitasking skills do not lead to improved performance. When we multitask, we remember less. In one study, people who were multitasking scored 11% lower on a comprehension test than those who were not. Even sitting near a multi-tasker can decrease your own comprehension by 17%!
Goldfish Training Strategies
This is the new normal: a world of information overload and constant distraction. Now that you know how we got here What can you do about it? How can you ensure your training cuts through the noise and sticks with your employees?
Effective modern training programs incorporate three strategies.
Focus on the Most Important Information
Today’s learners are constantly searching for information that holds personal relevance to them. ‘One-size fits all’ approaches to professional training give employees permission to disengage.
Instead of a 3- hour presentation with hundreds of slides, focus your valuable training time on the specific knowledge gaps that are hurting performance. Some of our customers use Learn to Win to deliver 10-minute spot assessments before live training sessions, so that presenters can ‘tune’ their content to their audience’s specific needs.
The results and data are powerful. The data generated from those assessments helps our customers track where their employees are succeeding and respond to areas that need improvement.
Make Training ‘Bite-Sized’
Your average employee has 20 minutes of time available to devote to learning and skill development each week. How do you help your employees improve their performance in 20 minutes? You provide them with ‘bite-sized’ training.
Microlearning breaks content and training exercises into smaller, five-minute modules that can be tackled in short, but frequent bursts. Employees can access a microlearning session at any time and confidently complete the short segments of training without the anxiety of being rushed.
The University of California-Irvine illustrated just how efficient microlearning can be through their case study:
- An employee engages in a training exercise for about 11 minutes before she is interrupted by some distracting force (email, phone call, doorbell etc)
- During those 11 minutes, she works through many short tasks that take about 3 minutes each to complete
- If the task centers on consuming digital information, she needs only 20 seconds browsing one piece of content before she is on to the next one.
In the span of just 11 minutes, this employee has made huge strides in her training that have a higher likelihood of sticking than if she were to engage in a long, drawn out session.
And it’s not just efficient, it’s also preferred by all parties involved. Over 50% of employees and 94% of learning and development professionals say they like the microlearning model over other training strategies.
Simplicity + Variety = Successful learning.
Gamify the Training
What is the number one challenge L&D professionals face? Training engagement. When employees disengage, training isn’t effective, and companies lose $13.5 million per year for every 1,000 employees trained ineffectively.
The solution: Gamification. Gamification involves applying gaming mechanics and elements to training sessions to promote engagement and memory focus. Trainings that employ gamifying tactics such as rewards, badges and actual game play allow employees to immerse themselves in their training.
Meet Your Learners Where They Are with Learn to Win
Short attention spans don’t have to be a barrier to your team’s learning. We’ve designed Learn to Win so that you can meet your learners where they are and provide engaging training that helps them get better, faster.
To do that, our platform always starts with a quick assessment. That way, you can spot your team’s knowledge gaps and know exactly where to focus your training. No need to waste time covering material people already know!
Once you know where to focus, our simple platform makes it fast and easy to spin up a targeted microlearning lesson. Thanks to Learn to Win’s mobile-first design, your employees can level-up their learning in short bursts, such as when they have a few minutes free between meetings.
To capture your employee’s attention, Learn to Win makes the learning process engaging and fun. You can mix and match all kinds of rich media: GIFs, video clips, voiceover, and even emojis. Teams love the focused, rapid-fire, and gamified approach to learning.
Ready to learn more about how Learn to Win upgrades sales training?