The Importance of Presentation Brevity

March 9, 2012

As our world grows more complex and everyone’s time continues to be challenged, it’s becoming more important than ever that we need to be clear, concise communicators. Gone are the days when we can put a few boring slides together and expect people to sit still, pay attention and be influenced to take action from our speeches and presentations.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the rise of timed presentations: There’s Pecha Kucha, a six minute, 40 second presentation consisting of 20 slides shown for 20 seconds each; Ignite, a five minute presentation consisting of 20 slides shown for 15 seconds each; and in Chicago there’s now a six minute presentation known as Potluck!, a smorgasbord of ideas, which I hope to be attending next week. These short presentations are in addition to the already popular 18 minute timed TED Talks.

As a member of Toastmasters for more than seven years, I’ve experienced the challenge of delivering speeches that, in most cases, must be between five and seven minutes long. I have a tendency to get wordy in my speeches. So this becomes a challenge. I typically rehearse with a stopwatch and will trim anywhere from 15, 30 and 45 seconds from my speeches. By the time I’m ready to deliver to my audience, however, I realize it’s more succinct, to the point and that I didn’t really need those extra talking points.

As I perused the February 2012 issue of Fast Company, I noticed a short article, “How to Pitch a Startup in Three Minutes,” which features an event known as Startup Riot. This re-enforced my thoughts on presentation brevity.

Let’s face it, we’re living in a complex, time-challenged world…I have a feeling these timed presentations are here to stay because they break our thoughts and ideas down into smaller, more actionable pieces.

How about you…have you delivered a timed presentation? If so, how did it feel to really get to the point? Have you watched a timed Ignite or Pecha Kucha presentation? If so, how do you feel about them?

Flickr Creative Commons photo courtesy of VFS Digital Design.