The 7 Minute Presentation Rule

Freelance consultants are often called upon to make business presentations, at a client meeting or even a board meeting. Getting one’s point across clearly, succinctly and convincingly is an all-important component of one’s success as a leader or manager. Droning on in an unfocused way is not desirable, but communicating the required amount of information is paramount.

“Anything you have to say in a business setting should fit into a seven minute window”, says the computer technology, writing and presentation expert John Brandon. Brandon is a speaking coach and frequent presenter; experience has taught him that in seven minutes, it is generally possible to deliver your important message and maintain audience attention as you do. Like a stage play, he has blocked out a diagram of the action that will teach us his presentation method.

First, write a draft presentation and design your Power Points, if you elect to use slides. Confirm that all necessary information will about fit into seven minutes, perhaps with some judicious editing. Do an initial run-through and check your time. If the talk exceeds the seven minute window by a few minutes, further rehearsing may allow you to bring the delivery time down to the target time limit. You can also take another look at your material to consider what might be edited out. Here is Brandon’s presentation roadmap:

Minute  1: Grab audience attention

Brandon urges you to open your talk with a “bang”. You might begin with a surprising statistic or provocative point, verbally or depicted on a slide. The “bang” must persuade the audience to want to hear what you have to say. The opening is NOT where you deliver your main message. The “bang” whets audience appetite for your knowledge and perspective on the topic. Achieving the “bang” in 60 seconds requires discipline, editing and creativity. You can do it.

Minute  2: Summarize in one minute

The right “bang” will be the perfect entrée to the heart of your talk. There will be no need for a transition statement—the audience will be more than ready to hear you. Brandon says that in this segment, you tell the audience why you are standing before them today. Give a 60 second overview of what you are selling, recommending or explaining.

Minutes 3-6: Present the main message

Your audience is keen to hear what you have to say. You have earned their respect and undivided attention. In this segment you deliver the goods, the heart of the talk, in four minutes. You will defend and explain your quirky or provocative “bang” with charts, graphs, non-text-heavy Power Point slides, or maybe just your silvery spoken words, perhaps with an anecdote of two sprinkled in. You may do and say whatever you feel will be most effective to win over your audience. It’s your talk!

Minute  7: Summarize the main message and conclude

Use the final minute to debrief the crowd. Close the deal by summarizing your main points, to help the audience retain the information. Do you have a call-to-action—do you want the audience to advocate for your idea or buy your product? Tell them in this segment. Leave the audience with an idea and information that they will savor and remember. That’s it!

Thanks for reading,

Kim

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