Master Your Message Blog

How To Hold Your Audience’s Attention During Longer Presentations

When I speak to a group, I try to speak in seven minute segments MAX. That’s Magic Time! Because after seven minutes of information battering our little brains, our eyes roll back in our heads and we shut down.

And where has this come from? Television, of course. Because a program segment is about 7 minutes … then there’s a commercial .. unless you zap it .. but you’re still programmed to take a break.

Today, attention spans are getting even shorter. So, it depends on your audience. The younger, the shorter … generally.

The point is, “think in modules.” If your talk is longer than 10 minutes, you need to break it up. It should be at least a two or three module talk. That doesn’t mean you physically stop and do something else.

It means that you need to change the pacing, break up the flow … preferably with something emotional – sex, drugs or rock and roll. No, no, no, I’m just kidding!

But seriously .. a joke, story, an exercise … something to really get your audience’s attention … and it should be relevant to the point you’re making. It’s really about creating a “change of pace.”

People will not concentrate on any one point longer than seven minutes. Toastmasters has known that for the longest time because toastmasters are used to making their speeches 5 – 7 minutes. That’s Toastmasters.

You’ll find that it’s much harder to do a seven minute talk than a ten minute talk. It forces us to be efficient with our words and more focussed with our presentation. Try it!

And by the way, Toastmasters is a great place to experiment and get much better at speaking in public. Every city has lots of clubs – check it out. But make sure you find an established club with some experienced members. The more experienced, the more you’ll learn. And that’s what it’s all about. In fact, presenting in public is something you never, ever become perfect at. I’m learning more each time I get up in front of an audience.

Seven minutes … Magic Time … shut down time … another secret to being a better presenter.

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