If you’ve been communicating online, as everyone has, you’ve noticed that it is hard to keep your interest and, for that matter, anyone else’s, on a topic for very long. The picture we see of ourselves and others online is reduced to our faces and sometimes a view from the chest up. Not much to look at or to keep our attention.
One of the reasons for this is that online apps provide a visual that captures whatever the camera focuses on. It does not design a picture or visual; it merely shows it. The online apps are dependent on a device’s camera and pass through a live image of people or the environment. So, why should we be surprised when we get tired or lose interest in what we see.
What attracts us in a conversation or to someone’s presentation is how many times the stimuli changes. When something new is introduced, that’s when we pay attention and listen. When you watch TV or commercials, try to pay attention to how many times the picture changes. It could be as much as every 2 to 3 seconds. Most people are not video editors or designers, but there are a few techniques that you can use that would help you and the people you are communicating pay attention more.
Here are a few tips:
1. Create interactions between you and your audience. Ask questions or challenge assumptions. Telling stories is another way to create interest. Stories are the way we communicate every day. Most of the information that comes to us daily comes by way of stories. The news, commercials, and shows that attract us, are all made up of stories. Stories are a compelling device to hold attention, whether online or face to face.
2. Use short videos, stills, or animation as a change of stimuli that will rekindle
3. Use these guidelines for creating slides:
• Background colors should make your slides easy to see and read.
• Slides should be simple and not complicated.
• If you use data tables, be sure they are easy to read.
• Diagrams shouldn’t look like piping systems.
• Use short phrases and not sentences or paragraphs.
• The less type, the better.
• Fonts sizes for slides should be 18pt or higher.
• Use pictures that relate to your subject.
• In general, use as few slides as possible.
If you use slides in an online presentation, be sure you switch from the slide back to you, so stimuli changes to maintain interest. If there is a long explanation necessary to explain a point or an idea, use the mouse to direct attention on the slide and then switch the picture back to you for more information on the topic.
Changing the image helps in maintaining and bringing back the viewer’s interest. It will also help you stay interested as you manage where you want the viewer to focus. Directing the focus of your viewers is essential in controlling how the information should flow. Too fast, and the viewer will miss it. Too slow, and you lose their interest. It’s best if one idea can build on another. Like in a good story, present one idea until it is understood, then offer another idea that builds on the first and so on until you complete your message.
As you’ve seen, effective online communication still depends on some of the same techniques as communicating face to face. Keeping your audience’s attention is essential in delivering your message. Remember to change the stimuli as often as you can. Entertain your audience, and one way to entertain them is to introduce new ideas and then change them as often as you can.