Did you get the impression your boss tuned you out while you were making that elaborate presentation? You're probably right. A new survey from the Chicago-based The BRIEF Lab found nearly three in four professionals lose interest in presentations within a minute — and have equally limited attention spans for email and conversation.

Less is More

Let's get right to the point. The BRIEF Lab is a business unit of the Sheffield Co., a boutique agency specializing in narratives and visual storytelling. It was founded in September to help professionals become "lean communicators."

Lean is all about eliminating waste -- creating more value for customers with fewer resources. In the case of communication, that means making your point clearly and effectively with as few words as possible.

In brief: Say what you mean. Mean what you say. And don't bore me with extraneous details … or I'll stop listening.

As Joe McCormack, founder of The BRIEF Lab, noted in a recent blog post, "It’s only human to be repetitive -- but it’s also annoying and unprofessional." McCormack is big on brevity. In fact, he wrote the book on it: "BRIEF: Making a Bigger Impact by Saying Less," will be released early next year.

If you've ever stifled the urge to tell a long-winded speaker to just shut up already, you understand a few words go a long way. And based on 1,000 professionals The BRIEF Lab interviewed for a first-of-its kind survey, a lot of people agree.

Buried in Information

“Professionals are getting buried in email, texts and social media while their attention spans are dropping like rocks,” McCormack noted in a statement. “Just like a computer cannot process an unlimited volume of data and applications, the mind can’t either.”

The typical corporate email user sends and receives about 115 email messages per day, according to statistics from The Radicati Group. Add in back-to-back meetings and conference calls and three hours a day of needless interruptions (download)  and you'll understand why it is so hard to get work done.

So stop talking.  According to the survey, you only have seconds to make your point.

You Talking to Me  .jpg