Tuesday, August 25, 2009

You've got five minutes

When speaking to an audience there's an old adage that it takes much longer to prepare a short talk than a long one. The art of conveying a clear and convincing message in less than 10 minutes takes time to learn but is highly effective. Few of us really listen to anyone effectively for long and so if you really want to get the message across it's best to do so as concisely as possible before your audience's attention starts to wander.

This has been taken to heart by Ignite which is an event concept where invited experts are allowed 5 minutes each to get their message across. It's a bit like the classic talent show where singers or comedians are given max 5 minutes to convince the audience that they are any good. In the case of Ignite evenings it's not amateur hour but a showcase for highly gifted speakers to make their mark. On the website you can sample some of these short talks.

The concept seems to be popular and I wonder if it can spark more focus in schools and universities on presentation skills. We tend to play down this important skill today and I think we could all (students and teachers) benefit from more practice at communicating effectively in a limited timeframe.

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