60 Second Storytelling

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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