14THE 18-MINUTE WALLAudience Attention Span

ALL YOUR PLANNING, talents, and good execution will be in vain if you fail to recognize one simple—and critical—law of nature.

In the 1970s the U.S. Navy did a study to find out how long people can listen to other people talk. The objective was to best use the time of instructors and students throughout the Navy’s education system. The answer surprised a lot of people. The answer was not an hour nor even half an hour. The answer was just eighteen minutes. The Navy found that in a classroom, presentation, or lecture environment, an audience’s ability to focus on what the speaker is saying and then remember what was said drops off at eighteen minutes like the continental shelf plunging straight down ...

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