So you worked really hard on your presentation.  You are confident the information you compiled is factual, relevant, and will knock the socks off your boss – maybe change the whole direction of the organization and result in a huge promotion for you.

And then you present. You see your boss’ eyes glaze over; he’s scrolling through his emails on his phone, flipping ahead in the handouts you prepared, and glancing at his watch. Halfway through your most important point – he asks who is taking care of lunch. What happened?

Maybe it’s not you. According to statistics from the Center for Disease Control & Prevention  about 5.2 million children between the ages of 3 and 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Children with this diagnosis may exhibit tendencies to be bored and distracted, procrastinate and be careless with their work product. Those children grow up to be adults and enter the workforce.

Whether they truly have ADHD or are just distracted people, there are a few things you can do to help keep your boss and co-workers on track (and hopefully, focused on the message you want to convey):

  • Keep your presentations short — 20-30 minutes on average
  • Take short breaks during long meetings to allow people to move around
  • Solicit feedback from your audience to keep their interest
  • Follow up with written documentation of your main points

If you manage someone with ADHD symptoms, make sure you:

  • Give precise directions
  • Reward behaviors  you want to encourage — positive feedback is important
  • Break projects into smaller tasks
  • Have checkpoints to ensure they stay focused

Lastly, excluding ALL electronic devices from meetings (whether willingly or by force) couldn’t hurt either!

Information sources:;