TikTok attention spans: What 3 stages help you evolve your impact and capture attention in 3 seconds?

What three stages of evolution must you go through to master impactful communications?

Image by Markus Winkler from Pixabay

I am lucky to have a training background (10 years +). As a training facilitator (then manager), I observed how training professionals evolve. Professionals move through various stages of development, each hinging on one thing: where they placed their attention.

1. Inwards focus: Nervous, worried about what people think of me. Distraught when I stuff up my delivery. Mental energy on content delivery. Exhausted afterwards. “It’s all about me.”

2. Equal inner and outer focus. Practiced delivery. Content memorised. Some adaptability to adverse circumstances: equipment malfunction, hecklers, late attendees. Less mental energy expended. Beginning to focus on audience reactions.

3. Outer focus. Minimal effort is needed to deliver content. Confident delivery. I am aware of signs of nerves in other trainers. Most of my attention is on my audience. I see their micro-expressions, signs of boredom — and engagement. If I trip up, I laugh it off. I have a Plan C for my presentation — let alone a Plan B. “It’s all about the audience.”

Could any professional involved in business communications undergo the same evolution?

It’s no secret that we are bombarded with messages from emails to phone calls to applications like Slack or Google Hangouts. Our minds use quick rules of thumb, which help us discern messages we need to pay attention to.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Catering for TikTok Attention Spans

Business communication might not even need a “business” flavour. Could we broaden our scope? If so, could social media influencers fall under our business communication umbrella?

What do successful TikTok creators suggest to anyone looking to capture attention span?

Your messages need to hook a viewer in the first three seconds.

This hook could be through:

Some TikToks appear effortless. After all, these brief videos don’t need to look perfect. Yet when speaking with Tiktok creators, the amount of work that goes into a lot of their productions is evident.

So what can we do to make the best of what TikTok creators can teach us?

Consider the amount of effort and time that you invest in a given message. If you have a sequence of change communications, how much time do you put into drafting each message?

The three stages of development applied to TikTok creators

Budding TikTok creators videos focused on their technical skills in their own “first stage”/inwards focus. They felt the sheer discomfort of producing something- anything.

The ones left have tolerated this discomfort. They move to the next stage of their development — a more systemised approach to production.

Drafting TikTok content becomes more fluid and the writer or video producer no longer worries about their inner state. They get into a flow state of producing material. The intermediate practitioner has learned from feedback loops. Like in the first stage of development, they persisted through failure and self-doubt.

The expert then looks at the world differently: they see shortcuts, patterns of production and knowing how to get the best of themselves. They also have a supreme outer focus on their audience, and they follow their curiosity about their audience’s reactions and responses.

Part of the expert mindset is working on polishing technical skills for almost automatic delivery. The expert has the mental space to take advantage of serendipity. What insights can they glean from their audience? What eureka moments do they become exposed to?

Why is hard work on our communications game worth it?

It may have taken months or even years of intense effort to get to that point, yet this is where any expertise in one’s domain is rewarded.

So how does the journey of a TikTok creator help us as business professionals involved in mass influence? We must be prepared to hone our messages:

To capture audience attention span in three seconds or less:

  • Go through the discomfort of learning brief, impactful production mediums;
  • Continue through an ongoing apprenticeship
  • Have fun developing our capacity to compel, mesmerise and entertain!

Above all, what does an increasingly polished and impactful communications game give you? The power to make people sit up, take notice and succumb to the appeal of your message.

My book — The Change Manager’s Companion — is available now. You can also check out my online course on Change Management.



Organisational change, behavioural design and coaching psychology insights — practical and research informed. Clever ways to put a dent in the world.

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Allan Owens

Senior organisational change manager. Provisional Psychologist. Author of The Change Manager’s Companion. www.humanfactorsadvisory.com.au