Thursday, March 26, 2015

What is the best length for a pitch?


Winston Churchill famously quipped, "A good speech should be like a woman's skirt; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest." 

Sir Richard Branson recently channeled Churchill on Twitter and met with the ire of feminists railing against #everydaysexism. Among the retweets, was an amusing one comparing speeches to male genitalia, pointing out that if they are too long they are a pain in the ass. 

Having a PhraseMates pitch scheduled for later that week, I polished up this pearl of wisdom and prepared to join the good fight against sexism. My version went like this, "A pitch should be like a penis. Long enough to satisfy curiosity, but short enough so as to not become a pain in the ass."

Being from the US, I consulted my lawyer before the event. He advised me to transfer all assets to my wife and kids as a precautionary measure. Thankfully, one of my best mates in Sydney reminded me that Australians love a good laugh and encouraged me to give it a go. I decided to take her advice. 

Reaction was quite good. After a few seconds of awkward silence, there was a welcome round of laughter. I didn't have to worry about keeping people's attention after that. The blokes in the audience generally thought it was a hoot. One woman thanked me for the presentation from a safe distance of about a meter. 

I didn't receive any offers of financing but one person invited me to a casting call for a film called "Tales from Down-Under". Not a bad days work, I reckon.

PS For those looking for a serious discussion on the matter, I suggest the following articles.

The Perfect Length of a Presentation, Media Training
Author Susan Weinschenk points out that the terrific TED talks are usually 20 minutes long. “These same presentations stretched out to an hour might not be quite so brilliant.”

New Research Reveals Optimal Presentation Length, Presentation Transformations
When it comes to delivering presentations, there is an optimal presentation length—and according to research from Maureen Murphy at the University of North Texas, it’s 20 minutes.


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