Miguel Panao | Professor and Author

Finding ways to improve scientific writing and academic productivity.

“Thank you for your attention.”

I’m at a conference and what most authors say in the end is this sentence. And I wonder if people were, in fact, paying attention. Honestly, most were, especially the senior researchers and experts, but a few were distracted or searching to overcome boredom. I understand both and acknowledge that those experiencing boredom face the most significant challenge.

Your attention

Overcoming boredom

There are ways to overcome being bored in conferences. You can write, draw, or… turn your attention to a device and do anything else except listening to the person making the presentation. Check email, read a paper, browse, buy books, check social media, read some news feed, etc.

My experience is to use pen and paper. Draw something, doodle as a thinking strategy, preferably related to the presentation. Also, change your mindset. If you’re bored, it means the presenter didn’t capture your attention. Think what new things can you learn from him nonetheless. A new topic, a new technique, a new word.

You can think of it as a simple exercise to your attention. Think about what you feel and embrace those feelings. Take this opportunity to train your ability to focus. Test your resolve in paying attention. Your resilience.


Capturing others’ attention

If you’re the presenter, you know how hard it is today to capture someone’s attention. Even if the topic is of the utmost interest, you still need to work your speech to capture your audience’s attention.

In my experience, you have to love what you’re sharing. If what you say doesn’t resonate in you, probably, it won’t resonate in others. Every word you say counts. Every well thought expression and improvisation – although I’d leave the later for people with more experience.

Help people focus their attention on your voice and what you’re saying. If you are shy, it is likely that slides take over your speech and people finds slides boring, even with good design. It all depends on what you say and the way you say it.

Finally, don’t fear to address questions to your audience. When you ask a question and pause, people start thinking, get involved and pay more attention. Questioning is an art of involvement. We always pay attention when someone asks what we think.

There are no recipes. Only the desire to connect and share what we do, our work. If we get personally involved with what we share, people get involved too and, eventually, paying attention. An attention you can be thankful for.

About Miguel Panao

I am a Professor at the University of Coimbra in Mechanical Engineering. I am also author of books in the fields of environmental ethics and Science and Religion. From the several research projects, this site is personal and dedicated to the search for the best approaches, tools, techniques to improve scientific productivity.

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