Top 6 Techniques To Retain Learners’ Attention

6 Techniques To Retain Learners' AttentionAs an instructional designer, capturing and retaining the learner’s attention is one of the most important goal. Sometimes, even the most exciting subjects can seem boring to learners if the content is irrelevant, does not provide value, or features some poorly crafted course descriptions. What’s worse? If learners do not interact with the content, there is a high chance that they will space out.

So, what can you do? As a course designer, you have to develop new, fun, and creative ways to keep your learners from looking elsewhere. This article walks you through some of the best techniques to gain your learners’ attention. Let us get started!


1. Begin the class/course with a challenge, fiction, or throw some facts!

What’s better than attention-grabbing facts to begin the class with and engage your learners right at the onset? Share some intriguing facts and fiction with your learners, or even better, create a challenge that stimulates their thinking. Learners often tend to pay great interest in the face of challenges that strike their intellect.


2. Let them play and have fun!

Did you ever wonder how young kids develop their intellectual skills quickly? Playtime is the answer you are looking for. Yes, that’s right. Play is one of life’s greatest teachers. It teaches them the value of trying and accepting different things, failing at them, persevering, learning, and growing.

Despite how old your students might be, they are nearly the same as these kids. So, when you design interactive course content, see that they play, explore and learn. Incorporate mechanics like leaderboards, levels, badges, and points, etc., in the learning modules. You will soon find skyrocketing levels of engagement.

If you have just started off with creating eLearning courses, do not worry. Take inspiration from our ideas:

  1. Award badges to learners who started learning online.
  2. Reward them with points for making good progress.
  3. Show them their name on the leaderboard after they pass a certain level.

3.  Keep it interactive!

Interactive and engaging instructional design is sure to grab the attention of your learners! When developing content and course plans, ensure that you offer your learners new ways to interact with content. Try and avoid teaching them from the same type of slides, boring presentations, and the like.

They can be off-putting! Instead, you can give interactive flipbooks, pyramids, or diagrams a shot. For instance, you can make them spin a wheel, take a reward-guarantee quiz, or something as fun and unique as a slot machine.

The whole point is to keep the learners from getting distracted and make them brush up & practice their skills in such a way that they do not get bored with the same activity all the time. Use interactivity tools available online to stimulate engaging digital interactions quickly.

4. Nothing beats humor!

There is nothing that can be as attention grasping as a joke. Joke about yourself (if you are okay with it), about the climate/weather, the irony of a subject, or about anything else. Just see that it works perfectly fine and lightens the mood. Humour is known to be a popular social lubricant. Even in a teaching atmosphere, it can build a positive relationship and comfort your students.

You can use it at the start or the end. However, we advise you to keep humor at bay when emphasizing a key point.

Remember that a joke does its job and seems funny only when understood/perceived in the right way. Humour, when understood as it is supposed to, can increase attention. On the contrary, if the learner cannot understand it, he/she might still be subject to confusion which is not the desired learning outcome.

To bring your students to an optimal state of learning, you should see that you keep humor relevant. Use lighthearted humor in moderation to see the best results!

5.  Videos for the win!

Did you know that one minute of video content is equal to about 1.8 million written words? Yes, that’s true. Further, visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than textual matter in the human brain. So, a video creates engagement, keeps the class interactive, and also helps students learn faster. Can this deal get any better?

Incorporating visual education aids like videos also offers you the chance to explore various learning styles and, consequently, enhance the rate of information retention. Given the era of Netflix and YouTube, make sure to leverage this whenever and wherever you can in the course plan.

6. Relate to real-life!

It is undeniable that people are more likely to listen carefully and pay attention to the course contents if they are relatable (like real-life stories). Use analogies to incorporate a story-telling style in your lessons. See that you inspire learners to feel themselves in the stories. They will be motivated to listen, learn and practice. For instance, you can include the real-life stories of highly successful people.

In a Nutshell

Irrespective of what you do to hold the learner’s attention, the goal is to boost their understanding and engage them. Use multimedia to keep the course contents interactive. Ensure that the content is crisp and concise to process. Instructors often convey a lot of information in one go.

This practice can be counterproductive in several ways, but most importantly, professionals do not always have the time to cover the tiniest of details. So, trim out the unnecessary course portions.

Another essential factor that contributes to high engagement is a carefully curated course plan. See that the lessons are laid out schematically, and use lists that make it easy for your learners to skim through.

This method is known to enhance and retain the students’ focus on important concepts. Ask them questions at every turn to build conceptual clarity. Questions are one of the best ways to keep people interested. The activity encourages them to participate in the class and, subsequently, achieve excellent learning outcomes.

There you go! You have our top tips for gaining and retaining learner’s attention in your class. Implement these techniques, see the results, and thank us later!


If you want to start creating successful eLearning courses, join my  Instructional Design for ELearning program. This comprehensive program is feature-rich and will give you the skill set to create amazing online courses. Sign up now, because the price will definitely go back up! 


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