Worse Than Goldfish

I was speaking at a conference last Thursday when someone asked me what book I would most recommend.

“None” I replied…..to the clear concern of at least two prolific authors present.  “I don’t think people have time to read books any more”, I said.

Really, I don’t.  Sad perhaps, but our lives are so crammed full with snacking on digital content across all our devices that we barely finish a paragraph before being distracted by the next thing.  Having to negotiate a whole chapter, never mind a book, feels more than daunting.

You may, in fact, already have lost interest in this blog post……

But if you haven’t, then according to Microsoft research just released, Canadians now have shorter attention spans (8 seconds, was 12 seconds in 2012) than goldfish (9 seconds, was 9 seconds in 2012) — and our always-on portable devices may be to blame.

You can read the rest of that article in Canada’s National Post (it also appeared elsewhere) yourself.

It’s not just Canadians though.  In the UK, research we have done in UK Government suggests people look at their mobile devices an average of 161 times a day and that “snackable content” – quick to read, quick to digest…..and quick to transmit to others – is the way forward.

Let’s think about that – and goldfish – when we create our content.

This year’s Communications World Conference, presented by IABC from 14th – 17th June, has snackable content.  Not least, the speed presentations and the IABC Talks (like TED talks but… IABC).

What used to be the standard 75 minute standard presentation is itself now down to an hour.   But if you thought you were being short changed, there are more than 80 sessions to choose from.   All in downtown, beautiful San Francisco.

Designed around the theme “Changing The Landscape, Informing The Future” , the Communication World Conference is very much about focusing on things that respond to a changing world.

If you haven’t registered yet, time is running out.  More on the Conference website.

Sorry, have to go. Just been distracted by something else….

Face to Face

I’m writing this blog at the end of a very busy and successful few days with Canadian Chapters in Calgary,  Edmonton, Vancouver and Montreal.

If you didn’t know already, the first three of those constitute respectively the second, third and fourth largest in the Association.

I was going to come earlier in the year to Canada but the locals said there was too much snow.   (I remember too well all the snow when I was in Toronto in January, but apparently that’s nothing for Montreal – and one of the latter’s residents actually sent me an infographic to prove it).

Anyway, as always with these things, it was a hugely instructive visit and, per my last blog, I did a lot of listening.

With various groups we covered a range of subjects, including the Association’s ‘business brokerage’ proposal (which is nearing the end of its research phase) and Certification, which is offering its first level exam in June at the World Communications Conference in San Francisco.

So what struck me most of all from all these visits?

At the synagogue last week (if you’re interested, the Shaar Hashomayim in Westmount, QC – the oldest congregation, and largest building, in the whole of Canada) the Rabbi in his sermon noted that when he recently hosted a convention of  visiting Rabbis, what interested them most was not the size or magnificence of the Sanctuary but a small yet salient technical detail relating to the Ner Tamid – the perpetual lamp which hangs in front of the holy Ark.

Similarly, what struck me most of all from my visits was not actually the (excellent, thank you) responses to the big subjects we were discussing.

It was the small, but salient detail that while we have been pumping out information for months over email and social media at the international level about Certification, ABCs, Gold Quill, changes to our brand etc….much of this has completely passed people by.

Why? Because we have sometimes been guilty of the device we often advise others against – the assumption “it’s in the newsletter, therefore I have communicated it“.

It was a powerful reminder for me that for all the other means of communication, you simply cannot beat face to face.

And, at each visit and each group, as we discussed the details in person, the response “but why didn’t you tell us this earlier?” was both genuine and heartfelt.

Now of course it’s impossible, in a global organisation, to have anywhere near as many face to face conversations as we’d like; but in a busy world, where many emails often stay unread and social media rarely has staying power, voice to voice at least – if not face to face – has never been more needed.