I received a call today from a friend who asked for assistance in brainstorming a two-and-a-half hour presentation on a topic she was very familiar with. She doubted that she could keep the attendees' attention for that long, though she knew the material.
My first suggestion was "engage them."
So how's that done? First, you have to get their attention. Next, you have to have something they are interested in. Finally, you have to find the intersection of what they know and what they are comfortable talking about in public. Combine all this with getting them to talk more than you, and you have a winning formula for interactivity!
As long as you keep it brief.
I'm not a natural at this. Many of my colleagues (see either my LinkedIn profile or my Hotlist for some examples) will tell you that the combination of time working for the government combined with my legal training and my current focus on education is not a good breeding ground for brevity. As an introvert, I don't necessarily enjoy the time where I am the only one talking, but I do know how to tell you everything I know about (your topic here) in 3 hours or less. But I recognize that brevity is good in this fast-paced, attention deficient world.
Can you feel my my pain?
I learned from Brian Solis, that technology and thought leader extraordinare Stowe Boyd has begun training others on brevity. Stowe told the world that he is posting a schedule of the times that he will make available for meetings with companies at the Web 2.0 Expo, and he is not going to accept email-based proposals to meet, only Twitpitches.
Twitpitches? That means 14o characters or less to get his attention? Is that possible? The title of this post is over half that long! Sarah Perez from ReadWriteWeb credits Stowe as the inventor of Twipitches . . . so who is going to start the training program?
Brian says he knows that it’s a huge amount of work to shift from a blast mentality to a one-on-one pitch regiment. . . it’s time to change things up. Make the time to invest in relationships with those who can help you tell your story.
Wow! So in order to build relationships with some people, we have to take less of their time? That sounds a lot like a digital elevator speech.
So I got to thinking, how would Abraham Lincoln have pitched the Gettysburg address on Twitter? (the original is here — it's 271 words — I'm not counting all the characters)
87 yrs ago we sed all menR equal-Now weR fighting. Lets honor the dead so this nation under God is free & govt of by & 4 people won’t perishWhat do you think?