Speaking: 15 Minutes Or Less Per Idea

Let’s just admit it: very few people can pay attention to anything for more than fifteen minutes straight. Take advantage of this by never spending more than fifteen minutes on one idea during a talk.

That means that if your talk is 45 minutes long, you should break it down into at least three, perhaps four different ideas that you want to explore. I find it helpful to outline my talks this way on paper before I start putting slides together.

The ideas that you choose to explore within a talk should flow naturally together; there shouldn’t be a jarring transition. And if you find yourself belaboring the same point for more than fifteen minutes, try to break it down further.

This article is part of my series of speaking hacks for introverts and nerds. Read about the motivation here.

3 Comments on “Speaking: 15 Minutes Or Less Per Idea”

  1. cullmann says:

    Fantastic idea-a side effect is a simple way to remember the presentation in reflection. Being able to take away several distinct ideas is how many presenters would prefer to be remembered.

  2. Kurren says:

    Do you know PechaKuchas?

    “PechaKucha 20×20 is a simple presentation format where you show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. The images advance automatically and you talk along to the images.”


  3. Trevor Owens says:

    This is great, I was reading “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs” and Carmine Gallo says the rule is 10 minutes. If you watch Steve he will go into the demo or bring up a guest almost exactly at the 10 minute mark.