The 7-Second Challenge

The 7-Second Challenge

by Tracy Johnson

You already know that listener attention spans are shorter than ever. It’s true. Consider that in 2000, the average adult’s attention span was 12 seconds. It has dropped by 33% since then, to 8 seconds. That’s shorter than the attention span of a goldfish:


That means that, at the most, you have to engage listeners in your content in less than the first eight seconds. At the eight second mark, they make a decision. Stay or flee. Tune in or tune out. They may not physically push the button, but they’ve tuned you out. And that’s just as bad.

That gives you 7 seconds to make an impression. That’s why, in Content Superhero 2: What Causes Tune In, we emphasize the importance of a quick start. You have their attention when the mic goes on. Keep it by leading them directly into the next content.

The brain reacts at lightning speed. We make decisions within the first three seconds about whether your content is worth their time.

These are emotional, gut decisions, not logical or calculated, and it impacts the appeal of your entire break. Consider these two EKG’s:

Bad hook

This break never has a chance because the hook is dull. It’s self-indulgent, inside and doesn’t relate. And it’s slow!

Now compare it to this:

good hook


This is relatable, listener-based and it’s a lightning rod for instant attention!

Hollywood has learned this lesson. Get details here on how the studio turned the movie Gone Girl from a potential flop into a box office hit by getting the hook in quickly.