Keenan Blog

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Keeping Pace With the Millennials?

Kathy Espinoza 4/21/2015
Kathy Espinoza

Do Millennials tune you out quicker than other generations or is it just my imagination? When training or presenting to them, I have to strap on my dancing shoes and pull out all the entertaining stops just to keep them ‘with’ me.

It’s not just our imagination. I attended an excellent webinar this week that validated this phenomenon. Attention paves the way to memory so keeping the attention of a millennial is important, if we need them to learn. Whether training them on safety topics or a new phone system, this generation needs constant stimulation to keep their attention which means we may have to shift our delivery style when presenting.

blog_april_millennialTo prove this, let’s take a look at ‘shot length’ in the movies. Shot length is the time the camera holds a single shot. Did you know the average ‘shot length’ in a movie back in 1940 was 10 seconds? In 2015, the average shot length is 4 seconds. You may have noticed this in TV commercials today, or in movies like ‘Bourne Supremacy’ with the quick pace, loud music, and switching from screen shot to screen shot. It almost gives me a seizure but advertisers and producers today are marketing to Millennials.

Here is the science behind it:

  • As you get used to something, you habituate to it and pay less and less attention to it. This is a good thing because we can put ‘white noise’ like fans, machines, cars passing in the background and not even notice them. Yet, it’s not a good thing if this occurs in training (slide after slide of bullets on a PowerPoint… picture a scene from Ferris Beuller… class… class…)
  • Trainers have to constantly give their millennial audience more and more stimuli to keep habituation from happening, in order to make the message stick.
  • Constant change, whether it is sound, size, or slide motions can reduce this from happening.

Research shows that trainers need to provide a ‘cut’ (change to a different slide, bullet, story, poll, stimuli) every 3 minutes to keep millennial interest. This might be going from the slide to an interactive polling question where they can use their phones to answer, going to a hands-on demo, Q &A with technology, etc.

Today’s Millennials have lived their entire life in the digital world where quick access to information is the norm. Their minds are moving at a rapid pace and our training sessions need to pace them, if the information is to be retained.

During the webinar, I did ask a question about the pace of training for us boomers. It was never answered… she just moved on quickly and cut to another topic… sigh…