In my last post I wrote about the attention-getting myth. I argued that the idea that you have to grab attention at the beginning of a presentation is a myth. Here’s the evidence to back that up.

Studies have been done measuring the attention levels of students in university lectures. Here’s the results of a study that asked students for their subjective assessment of their attention at different points in the lecture:

(Reference: Hartley J and Davies I “Note taking: A critical review” Programmed Learning and Educational technology, 1978,15, 207-224 cited by John Medina in Brain Rules).

In another study students were asked to write summaries of the lectures they had attended. The researchers then tallied the bits of information reported according to which half-minute segment of the presentation they had ocurred in. Students recalled the most information from the first five minutes of the presentation. (Reference: Burns R A “Information Impact and Factors Affecting Recall” 1985 cited in Middendorf J and Kalish A “The Change-Up in Lectures” National Teaching and Learning Forum, 1996, 5, 2).

So now you’ve got evidence that you don’t have to wrack your brains to come up with some clever attention-grabber at the start.

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