Attention spans are incredibly low — and dropping. People stop listening and paying attention a lot sooner than you’d expect! Why? Because we have so much communication noise all around us. Every moment there’s so many things competing for our time. Our phones, alone, have dozens of options competing for our attention.

There’s no way we can focus for long periods of time because our minds have become accustomed to switching from topic to topic.

Churches tend to think in long-form content. Think services, sermons, announcements, website content and brochures. Many churches do it the same way today as they did a decade ago, all while attention spans are plummeting. It just doesn’t work today.

Here are three ways to simplify church content so that people will actually take the time to discover it:

1. Say it with pictures or video.

A picture IS worth a thousand words, and moving pictures are worth even more. EXCEPT: make sure the picture actually tells a story that further expands the story of your words. If it restates what is delivered in words, it becomes boring and redundant. So, show more; show different (without adding confusion).

For video? Keep it short, concise, and make sure to rely on editing. Most people can’t nail one take without becoming wordy (and without the help of a teleprompter).

2. Edit all the unnecessary.

Once you’ve created ANY content, have it filtered by an editor before pushing the content. Why? Because if there’s anything perceived as unneeded, the audience will stop paying attention. And it’s very difficult to reengage them. So, make sure it’s all necessary.

This is an excellent reason to have an external editor (someone who’s removed from the content). They’ll view it from the consumer standpoint and remove things that the content creator alone may find interesting but isn’t needed for the flow of understanding.

3. Create attention-interruptors.

When you have a written paragraph, the reader often scans rather than reading as a form of speed reading in order to consume it quickly. We ignore details buried in the content, hoping if there’s something really important, it’ll be called out.

These interruptions (bolding, subtitles, bullets, captions, etc.) are relied on by our audiences to capture the idea of the entirety. YOU know your content well, so add interruptions along the way to slow their eye down!

For visuals? Edit cropping so interesting content occurs in the grid intersections of the thirds. Google “Rule of Thirds” for more. In live presentations, ensure regular interruptions by referring to a slide, a video, a photo, a demonstration, or even an example or story. Do what you can to bring their attention back to the important content!

NOTE: Know that in a room with a captive audience (i.e., your church service), the attention span is longer than it is on a digital screen. What works for “live” needs editing for “digital” download or views.