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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Brain Rule #4: We don't pay attention to boring stuff

Our brains are designed to pay attention to the important things and to ignore the boring things, says John Medina's Brain Rules.

The 10-minute attention span
After an amount of time disappointing to teachers and PowerPoint presenters everywhere, audience attention drops precipitously.

You must do something emotionally relevant at each 10-minute mark to regain attention.
So what does this mean for preachers? Should we only preach for 10 minutes?

What we should do is seek to emotionally engage our audience on a regular basis in our sermons. This can be through humor, passion, shock, anger, curiosity, or any emotion, but it must be connected to the point of our sermon. Some preachers tell jokes to keep people's attention, that's fine, if it supports the sermon. If it's just stand up commedy from the pulpit, there's a problem.

The same is true for our visuals. Just throwing out any old picture to try to have an emotional connect is wrong. But carefully selecting a picture or video that will support the sermon and engage the emotions actually helps people stay with the sermon.

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