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Shonette Laffy


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Training duration: what’s the golden ratio?


I've read quite a lot around the subject of attention spans, and the lengths of time given can range from anything from 5 hours to 15 minutes!

Have you found a certain amount of time before learners lose focus, and how do you deal with this - do you break sessions into manageable chunks, change up activities or simply keep workshops and presentations to a certain length? Intrigued to see what your experiences are and if they differ depending on the context.


3 Responses

  1. Hi Shonette; we haven’t done
    Hi Shonette; we haven’t done any research into attention spans but have about the way people learn naturally at home. Out of approx. 3k people only 2 said they have never used youtube to watch video tutorials. When we asked why people do watch video they like it because they are in control. They can watch the video once or however many times they like and even go to a point 2 minutes in and re-watch just that bit.
    We are moving towards bite-sized digital content which means videos approx. 2-4 minutes in length; each having a learning point. This means that the learning is in the hands of the learner and they know if they have 15 minutes free they can watch 1 video 3 times or 3 videos once.
    Also, in inductions we send people off with tablets and mi-fi’s to undertake learning in a space that they prefer. We give them a time to have it completed and ask them to be back to discuss. This has had a really positive effect on knowledge retention. We are also moving away from feeding lots of knowledge leading to the point of need and giving less knowledge beforehand but more support post ‘go live’. We are actually getting better results giving people less knowledge up front and concentrating on support in situ.

    1. Thanks Clive – it’s
      Thanks Clive – it’s particularly interesting to see the shift towards short-form video, which makes sense for so many reasons (particularly as you said they can be viewed at a time/place preferred by the learner, and there’s less to absorb at once so retention is improved).
      I’m interested to see if this move towards video and on-demand is shifting the way that face-to-face trainers conduct their sessions (whether it be in terms of the duration of sessions, or way they have to delivery content in shorter bursts/more visually-led)

  2. I normally deliver 1 day
    I normally deliver 1 day sessions (typically 9.30 – 4.30) however recently have delivered a series of half day sessions. I found that delegates were much more receptive throughout and my energy levels didn’t wain even when doing two half day sessions back to back. A manager also reported that half day sessions are easier to cover for staff.

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Shonette Laffy

Deputy Editor

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