Sunday, September 23, 2012

I Dislike Repetition

In general I do not like repetition. It's a waste of precious time, but even worse, it induces boredom. Boredom, in my experience, deadens the mind.

Various institutions make this mistake. I am thinking at the moment of a church I know. Every week they devote the first 3 minutes of the service to repeating the same dull reminders:
  • Fill out the Communications Card. Even if you attend every week. (Which nobody feels like doing.)
  • Explaining the service.
  • Explaining how they love kids, but yes sometimes kids get restless, so if they do, here are the various options you have to accomodate them (padded cell, kids program, etc).
  • (I will give them a little credit--lately they have been omitting the silence your cell phone PSA.)
The fact that the precious first minutes are devoted to this tedious repetition compounds the problem, magnifying it from a tactical mistake to a strategic one. People have limited, flawed attention spans. Their powers of attention are strongest at the outset, and wane from there. Devoting the first 3 minutes to deliberately boring your audience, turns an asset into a liability.

I think I do understand, the church wants to be friendly to newcomers. But there is probably a better balance to strike that doesn't involve wasting the prime minutes of the service. A few ideas:
  • Rotate the PSAs--don't try to cram them all in every single week.
  • Use the video to deliver the PSAs. Run them continuously before the service begins and devote one screen to them during the opening music.
  • Let the PSAs wait till a little later in the service. (This may or may not work, depending on the arrangement of the service.)
Nobody else seems to complain about this, so it may be just me. I experience objectionable repetition with work stuff, too, and nobody else complains very much.

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