Kiss long presentations goodbye

When it comes to great presentations, shorter equals better. Some of the greatest speeches in history have been under 20 minutes in length:

  • John Kennedy inspired a nation in 15 minutes with his famous ‘moon speech’ in 1962
  • One of the most popular commencement addresses of our time, was delivered by Steve Jobs in 15 minutes at Stanford University
  • Martin Luther King shared his dream of racial equality in just 17 minutes

Research shows that people can only focus intently for 5 minutes before their attention begins to decline, and after 15 minutes this dramatically decreases even further (Ralph A. Burns, 1985). This was before the invention of social media which has purportedly decreased our attention span from 12 seconds at the turn of the millennium to 8.25 seconds in 2015. It’s the reason behind why TED Talks are restricted to just 18 minutes, as TED curator Chris Anderson explains:

“It [18 minutes] is long enough to be serious and short enough to hold people’s attention.The 18-minute length also works much like the way Twitter forces people to be disciplined in what they write. By forcing speakers who are used to going on for 45 minutes to bring it down to 18, you get them to really think about what they want to say. What is the key point they want to communicate? It has a clarifying effect. It brings discipline.”

But it’s not just about cramming as much information as possible into a shorter presentation, too much information can lead to fatigue so our audience actually forgets what we have told them. Leading communication researcher Dr Paul King of Texas Christian University  says, that cognitive processing—thinking, speaking, and listening—are physically demanding activities. If you pile on too much information, you create “anxiety”—cognitive backlog—and your audience will actually turn on you!”

So how do you communicate your message without overloading your audience or losing their attention? These three rules can help:

10-20-30 Principle

When planning your presentation, venture capitalist Guy Kawaski advises the 10-20-30 Rule of PowerPoint. This states that presentations “should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points.”

The Rule of Three

Your audience will struggle to retain more than three or four pieces of information in their short-term memory. If you want to cover more key points, try to focus them around three themes to ensure a focused presentation.

The Glance Test

Apply the “glance test” to your slides – can your audience comprehend the content of your slide within 3 seconds? If not, they will spend more time reading your slide than listening to your message.

Whichever rule you follow, just remember to Keep It Short and Simple (KISS).

Like this? There’s more…

Five Top Tips for a Successful Virtual Event

Five Top Tips for a Successful Virtual Event As we all adjust to a new reality in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, the ‘virtual event’ is becoming the mainstay of daily communication, but how do you get the best from your online experience and ensure your event...

What Can The Studio Do For You?

The Studio at Corporate Events continues to work collaboratively through the Coronavirus pandemic from a distance, ensuring your message can still be communicated effectively. Our Creative Director, Dave Haslop shares insights across effective content and explores...

Why Choose Alternative Event Formats

It’s inevitable that the worldwide Covid-19 outbreak will result in enormous changes to the way people perceive and deliver events in the future. So perhaps the question should not be why, but when to choose an alternative event format. Effective communication is the...

Five reasons to livestream your event

Livestreaming, as predicted by our Event Manager Lizzie back in January, is definitely becoming a trend for 2019. Have you taken the plunge and streamed your event to the masses? If not, here are five reasons to consider it for your next event: 1) Maximise your impact...

Kiss Long Presentations Goodbye

When it comes to great presentations, shorter equals better. Some of the greatest speeches in history have been under 20 minutes in length: John Kennedy inspired a nation in 15 minutes with his famous ‘moon speech’ in 1962 One of the most popular commencement...

How to incorporate ‘wellness’ into events

Wellbeing and mindfulness in the working environment are undoubtedly having a moment – and rightfully so. Statistics from Mind’s Mental Health at Work website show that an alarming 1 in 6 workers experience problems with their mental health including anxiety, low mood...

How to increase sponsorship for your events

In January, two of our Senior Event Managers, Kerry and Holly, attended the Events Events Summit in London, a fantastic day of industry insights, networking and talks from expert panels. As part of the events team that produces large scale award shows such as William...

How to master Audience Engagement

To create an event that delivers on your objectives, you first need to master audience engagement. In this simple, clearly explained guide, we look at the elements that contribute to making a truly engaging and impactful event - a must read for all event planners....

How internal events boost employee engagement

With only 48% of employees in the UK feeling engaged at work, according to a Qualtrics report, and productivity in the UK 15% lower than in the rest of the EU (OBR), employee engagement is more than just an industry buzz word, it is an internal business measurement...

Solving Your Event ROI

Proving or measuring the value of your event can prove difficult especially when justifying large budgets.  In this guide, we use the Jack J Phillips ROI methodology to show you how being SMART can help you get the most from your event. A simple, clearly explained...