We now live in a "need it now" society. It doesn't matter what it is—food, entertainment, feedback, content, etc. We need it now and a constant flow of it.
I live with my iPad on 24/7 and my phone is on alarm every time a major news event occurs. I want to know the news so when I see a post from a friend on Facebook it's already old news to me. I live for constantly updated content. But I'm not sure why.
Like most everyone who falls into the over-30 age group I wasn't always this way. I can remember years when I didn't even own a cell phone. I went about my day just fine not being fully connected to the world. Now, I leave my house with out my wallet I think, "well, I'll be okay," but if I leave without my cell phone I instantly turn the car around because I can't stand the idea of being separated from the constant stream—the lifeline if you will.
And I know I'm not the only one . . . if you're reading this blog entry you're probably as much of a content junkie as I am. Ever wonder why that is?
According to Harvard economist David I. Laibson it's because we assess future benefits as if we had two brains—an "impatient" brain and a "patient" one. The "impatient" brain dominates when we think about immediate satisfaction and the "patient" brain takes control when we contemplate much-later benefits.
Laibson shared his theory of “multiple selves” to an intrigued audience on Dec. 2 at Yenching Library on the campus of Harvard University. The occasion was the 2010-11 Mind
Brain and Behavior Distinguished Harvard Lecture.
Professor Laibson began the presentation by asking the audience a question—a mini-experiment if you will. "Imagine you’re at a spa right now. You’re offered two
options—a 15-minute massage now or a 20-minute massage in an hour. Both
are free. Which would you choose?"
If you said a 15-minute massage now, you'd be in line with almost a third of the audience.
The takeaway from this? We want things now.
A massage is one thing, news from the world content stream is another, but I think this can also be relevant to what our attendees want from our meeting content. No one wants to sit through an hour long session to get two key takeaways if those same takeaways can be received in a 20-minute session just as easily.
It's all about thinking strategically, knowing our audience and providing the content they want in the time frame and format they want it. Think about that the next time you start designing your next attendee experience.