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Attention Spans and Conversations

It seems like attention spans can be measured in seconds these days, but it really comes down to being organized and cohesive in your speaking. You have about three to five sentences at a time to get your point across in normal conversation.

This is not about talking fast or not sharing to develop a closer relationship. This is more of a mental note for you to help keep from rambling or monopolizing a conversation. When you are speaking, you have about three to five sentences before a person’s focus starts to wander or they want to have their say.

Think of it as a back and forth exchange: 3-5 uninterrupted sentences for them and then 3-5 uninterrupted sentences for you, repeat as needed.

Here are some tips and things to think about:

1. What is the main point of what I’m talking or asking about?

Asking yourself this question before you speak will help you keep from rambling. It is the main reason you are having this conversation.

2. What do I want to gain or know by asking this question or saying this information?

This is basically the call to action aspect of your conversation. This works in business to help you clarify what you need to listen for. It also helps you think about how to formulate what you’re saying so your listener knows what you want.

3. Is this detail important?

If you’ve ever listened to someone tell a very long and rambling story then you’ll known this is not about lying or omitting significant information.

This is about deciding if that information is necessary for the listener to understand what you are talking about. Too many details make it harder for a listener to follow you because you’re creating so much information for that person to take in. It can also make for very boring conversation.

If people want more details, they’ll generally ask. This will help move the conversation.

The main thing is to be aware of what you are talking about and why. Remember to allow for a give and take in your conversations. Be respectful of a person’s attention span and time.

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