18 minutes and you have the impact of TED

avoid the bad habits of parents at weddings

This is the fourth of five thoughts addressing the topic of presentations and public speaking. For many in business, and other sectors, this is a critical subject, and one that does not receive enough attention. Contrary to popular belief, becoming a great presenter or speaker is not genetic. Great speakers develop as the result of the right attitude and outlook, skills training, and practice.

Have you ever attended a wedding and been forced to endure a speech by a proud parent that goes on and on, referring to things you have no interest in, and telling jokes that require 3 more drinks than you have had to find funny?

I was sent a ‘clip’ recently of a speech Vladimir Putin made to the Russian parliament. It was four hours in length. Setting aside the first two rows, fearful of being noticed, how many members of the audience do you figure were still listening after the first hour?

I was in the second half of a two-hour lecture in my university days when the lecturer declared, (without any apparent appreciation of the irony) that despite all the presentations they have attended, most university educated people have an attention span of not more than 45 minutes.

While allowing for variations in the purpose of the speech and the content, research in the United States found that 20 minutes is an ideal duration for a speech. 30 minutes is acceptable and 15 minutes works, but 20 minutes is ideal for most types of speeches.

Clearly, the ideal duration depends on the quality of the speaker. Most people could listen to Billy Connolly for longer than twenty minutes. But we are not all Billy Connolly. Few of us can tell a joke as well, and even fewer have content that is as funny.

In my experience, most speeches are way too long, and most speakers well and truly out stay their welcome. It is, in my opinion, best to opt for brevity. The 18-minute TED Talk has proven highly successful, both live and on social media.

If the speech or presentation has to be longer, audience attention may be enhanced by:

  • Scheduling breaks – something equally important between speakers
  • Adopting a conversational style – seeking feedback from the audience
  • Providing clear direction from the beginning and following that direction
  • Telling stories that appeal to both the heart and the brain

It is best, however, to avoid long speeches, particularly 4-hour speeches from politicians.

Speaking at an optimal pace of 125 – 150 words per minute, a 20-minute speech would be about 2500 words in length – although the speech should almost never be read.

In 2018 – avoid the bad habits of parents at weddings

Source of core statistics – Custom Show, Info Graphic, Forbes, Presentation Training Institute, Corporate Communication Experts, Brandon Gaille, Magnetic Speaking, Statistic Brain, The Better Presenter and Guy Kawasaki

READ MORE – www.djohncarlsonesq.com 

D. John Carlson – Adviser and Speaker – 0402 273 350 or johnc@lincintegrated.com .

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