Effective Sales Presentation – The 18 Minute Rule
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Academy Award winners have just 45 seconds to complete their acceptance speeches. The ominous get-off-the-stage instrumental music might not start in the middle of your next sales pitch or company meeting, but scientists say there is proof that brevity matters when trying to get your point across.
“Your ideas are your currency now… You’re only as successful as your ability to communicate your ideas successfully,” said Carmine Gallo, author of “Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds”, when he addressed Google in 2014.
Most people understand that they might only get one chance to share their thoughts with the right audience – whether it be in an important internal presentation, or a sales pitch with a potentially huge customer. Many speakers make the mistake of trying to cram too many ideas into that single conversation however. Like our Oscar-winning friends, most presenters will race through too much information or prolong their demonstration past the point where their audience is paying attention.
As a speaker, presenter, or salesperson, what’s the proper length for a presentation? How can you best share ideas…and make them stick?
TED talk expert recently explained that TED has identified that 18 minutes is the perfect length of time for a presentation. In fact, all TED Talks are limited to 18 minutes, to align with research on attention spans. Gallo cited TED curator Chris Anderson’s reasoning of the time limit as “short enough to hold people’s attention, including on the Internet, and precise enough to be taken seriously. But it’s also long enough to say something that matters.”
Molecular biologist and bestselling author John Medina talks about the 10 minute rule in his book, Brain Rules. Biologic research points to attention spans dropping off after 10 minutes of a presentation. Medina points out that it’s important to include ways to re-engage the audience with new material every 10 minutes. A Q&A session, videos, or hands-on demonstrations are all great “soft breaks” to hold your listeners concentration and restart the 10 minute attention clock.
So, it isn’t just coincidence that the most memorable acceptance speeches are also the shortest. Cut your next presentation to below 18 minutes, and include an attention break at the 10 minute mark. Your audience might not give you a standing ovation, but they’ll undoubtedly remember what you said.
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