20 Minutes? An Hour? Three Hours?
Recently I did a presentation for a very sophisticated business audience. The client specified that my session be 20 minutes. This was in a general session in what we used to call (and still usually do) a “keynote” slot. All of their general session speakers went 20 minutes.
When asked why, the answer was simple: “We hire excellent speakers. Many of them catapulted to national and even worldwide popularity based on their short TED Talks.
In reviewing their work, we found that those short presentations were their best, most impactful work. We wanted maximum impact and maximum value. Not maximum time on stage.”
The traditional one hour time slot for speeches is completely arbitrary and is observed out of habit and the age old pull of doing things the way they’ve always been done. In the mid-1800s – the days of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas – it wasn’t unusual for a speech to go on for over three hours. As a matter of fact, a three hour presentation just might be how you get maximum impact and value from a speaker. But it might be 20 minutes. The point is to act with intention of purpose, not from laziness and habit.
Why do you think TED Talks are so incredibly popular? Because times change. The ways people process information and even inspiration have changed. Whether it’s the length of a presentation, the way you go to market, your relationship with customers, or any other aspect of your business, ask yourself, “Are we doing it this way because it is the best, most effective, highest value way to do it? Or is it simply the way we’ve always done it?”
Create maximum value.