Take the 6-Second Presentation Challenge
by Gilda Bonanno
It's election season here in the U.S. and one of my clients, the CEO of a nonprofit organization, was invited to film an endorsement for a candidate's television commercial. Her role was to introduce herself and her organization and explain why she supports the candidate. She was happy to participate because she is a big supporter. However, the challenge was that she only had 6 SECONDS to communicate her message!
I've written and spoken frequently about the importance of communicating your message within the time limit. And as means of practicing that skill, I've shared the improv game of Half-Life, where 2 people act out a scene in 64 seconds and then they repeat the scene in half the time - 32 seconds – and then again in 16 seconds and finally down to 8 seconds. The 8-second scene is usually hysterical and demonstrates that you can communicate a lot in a limited amount of time if you cut out the extra material and focus on the essentials. (You can read more about Half-Life on my blog http://gildabonanno.blogspot.com/2010/01/using-improv-comedys-half-life.html)
On the other hand, communicating a complete message - especially a coherent and persuasive endorsement message - in 6 seconds is very difficult!
My client was able to do it (and in very few takes) because she prepared and practiced. Her endorsement was combined with other 6-second endorsements into a powerful short commercial.
While it's unlikely that you'll ever have only 6 seconds to give your entire presentation, taking the 6-Second Presentation Challenge can help you become a more effective presenter. The next time you have to give a presentation, challenge yourself to state your message in 6 seconds.
And "your message" is defined as the one sentence that summarizes the point of your presentation, the one thing that you want your audience to remember. Yes, all the supporting details and data help, but there should only be one core message. You can also think of it as a newspaper headline or a billboard.
Why is this helpful? Well, if you can say your message to yourself in 6 seconds, then you really understand it and will be able to organize your material around it. And that means that your audience will find it easier to understand your point because they won't be distracted by unrelated information, extraneous material or confusing organization.
While you may take a little bit longer than 6 seconds when actually saying the message to the audience during your presentation, it shouldn't take much longer.
The 6-Second Presentation Challenge can also be applied in a networking situation. For example, what do you say at a networking event when someone asks, "what do you do?" Rather than rambling on, can you prepare and practice a 6-second statement to introduce yourself clearly, concisely and confidently?
Take the 6-Second Presentation Challenge and let me know what you come up with and how it helps you become a more effective presenter.
Gilda Bonanno is a speaker, trainer and coach who helps people from all walks of life improve their communication and presentation skills.
Copyright (c) 2010