Recapturing Attention in Meetings and Classes

The struggle is real! In today’s fast-paced, digitally-saturated world, capturing (and keeping!) team-member attention is no easy feat. Whether it’s a sea of blank screens in your online class or a noticeable lack of focus in meetings, we’ve all felt that frustration. But don’t despair – here are 5 ways to re-energize your attendees and get them back on track.

  1. Start with a Surprising Fact
    Strategy: Begin your meeting with an unexpected or little-known fact that challenges common beliefs.
    Example: In a conservation agriculture workshop, reveal that no-till farming can increase soil health and reduce erosion compared to traditional plowing.
    Example: “Did you know that in California, a pedestrian is killed in a traffic collision every 3 hours? That’s more frequent than you might think, and it underscores why safety efforts are so critical.”
  2. Use Humor!
    Strategy: Incorporate a bit of Safe For Work humor.
    Examples: Create a memorable play on words to lighten the mood. Show a lighthearted safety video featuring relatable scenarios with a humorous twist to reinforce key safety or other messages.
    Example: “Remember, folks, the only thing we want to see ‘drifting’ on our highways is snow, not your vehicle.” (Accompany this with a humorous image of a car playfully drifting in snow). 
  3. Pose Thought-Provoking Questions
    Strategy: Start conversations by asking questions.
    Example: Ask learners to consider the impact of soil erosion on water quality and ecosystem health.
    Example: “What do you think are the top three distractions for drivers in work zones? How can we, as Caltrans employees, help mitigate those distractions?” 
  4. Use Eye-Catching Animations and Videos
    Strategy: Incorporate animations and videos to grab attendee’s attention.
    Examples: Create an animation showing how cover crops protect soil from erosion and enhance nutrient cycling. Produce a video explaining how crop rotation improves soil structure and reduces pest pressure.
    Example: Show a brief animation illustrating the “chain reaction” of events leading to a major freeway accident, emphasizing how one small mistake can escalate. Or, use a time-lapse video showcasing a Caltrans crew efficiently clearing debris and restoring traffic flow. 
  5. Create Unexpected or Unique Interactions
    Strategy: Surprise attendees with novel approaches.
    Example: Organize a virtual field trip to a regenerative agriculture farm where learners interact with farmers.
    Example: Organize a “Safety Scavenger Hunt” where participants have to identify safety hazards in photos of work zones or equipment. Award prizes for the most accurate responses. 
  6. Bonus Idea – Mix It Up!
    Strategy: Keep it fresh by using different forms of engagers each time.
    Examples: Alternate between live lectures, pre-recorded video modules, discussion forums, interactive quizzes, and online simulations. Offer a variety of content formats, such as articles, case studies, podcasts, and infographics. Encourage attendees to share their own experiences and insights on the various topics.
    By implementing these strategies, you can transform your classes and meetings from a zone of distraction to a hub of engagement. Remember, teaching is an art, and a little creativity can go a long way in inspiring your students and rekindling their passion for learning.

Let’s make this the year we turn-it-up a notch to help our meetings and classes reach their full potential! If you are interested in learning more, reach out to us at Memory Spring.

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