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When you’re speaking to a group – of two or two hundred – can you hold their attention? With the average adult attention span at 5 to 7 minutes (and falling), this is a challenge.

Personally, I blame the microwave oven – until we stood in front of a countdown clock, waiting for food, who realized how long a minute really could be?

When you talk to your project team, or your board of directors, or a room full of potential customers, you need to be able to get your point across quickly.

You have an hour’s worth of material in your sales presentation? Present it it all in one go, and you’ll probably find out that your audience has embraced the idea that a nap during the day is a good idea. Or they’ll be checking email under the table after about ten minutes.

If you have a lot of information to share, you need to break it up into bite-sized chunks, with plenty of opportunities for interaction with your audience. After you’ve shared your first point, engage someone in the audience in a short exchange about what you just said. This makes your audience feel like active
participants instead of passive listeners.

If you’re speaking to a large group – over a hundred – work some video into your presentation. A demo of your product, done by a real live human. Testimonials from customers. Input from a colleague who is a key player, but wasn’t able to be in the room with you. Keep these short, too.

Think of it as 60-second storytelling.

Even if you have a huge amount of information you want to share, you must make it easily digestible for your audience. Would you be able to absorb a solid hour of Power Point? I’d run screaming from the room after about ten minutes – or I’d want to. I doubt that’s the effect you’re going for with that hour-long progress report you’re preparing for your board.

Break your material down. What are the major points you’re trying to make? What’s the essential story behind each of them? And, most important, why does your audience care how that story turns out?

With those elements identified, turn each of your major points into 60-second stories, with interaction time between each of them for the audience to engage with you about the information you just shared.

You’ll notice two things with this approach: first, it will be easier for you to organize and deliver your message; second, your audience will be paying attention.

The 60-Second Storytelling approach will guarantee win-win for you, and for the people you present to. You’ll get your point across, and understood.

They’ll gain your knowledge…and think you’re a pretty terrific speaker.

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