We get asked this question time and time again. Sometimes you will have defined parameters for presenting (say a bid presentation or a speaker slot). Sometimes, you will enter into a discussion with your client that far surpasses your original given time. Sometimes, you may book an initial sales meeting with your prospect and you decide how long the pitch should be. It’s in these instances that we suggest that around 20 minutes is a good basis to work from.
There have been many studies conducted that suggest an audience will remain engaged for up to 20 minutes. In that 20 minutes attention levels will dip and peak. When asked why TED talks are 18 minutes long TED curator Chris Anderson responded;
‘It’s long enough to be serious and short enough to hold people’s attention. It turns out that this length also works incredibly well online. It’s the length of a coffee break. So, you watch a great talk, and forward the link to two or three people. It can go viral, very easily.’
Much as twitter forces the author to consider their output, a shorter presenting window will encourage you to really think about what you want to say. What are the key points you want to communicate, and how will you structure your presentation so that you do it effectively?
For instances where it may be difficult to limit your presentation to twenty minutes, we encourage the use of breaks and audience interaction. Us at Captivate do know a few more tips and tricks for re-engaging a reluctant audience (blog to come soon) but we ‘d love to hear how you deal with a longer presenting slot? How long do you usually present for? Let us know in the comments!