“That depends on the length of the speech. If it is a ten-minute speech it takes me all of two weeks to prepare it; if it is a half-hour speech it takes me a week; if I can talk as long as I want to it requires no preparation at all.
I am ready now.”
Woodrow Wilson 1918
I received an email asking if I would do our marketing department a favour – they asked me to say a few words at our largest trade show, held annually in Chicago Illinois. I expected that I would do a best practise story with colleagues, BUT it got really interesting when the VP of Marketing sent follow-up messages about the group rehearsal (a rehearsal?) and the 90-second pitch concept.
I was to represent ‘my’ product line at the company pre-congress meeting to hundreds of sales and marketing colleagues from around the world. The material I was asked to cover in the “90-second pitch” could easily take 30 minutes in a typical presentation, but the goal of this pre-congress program was to have multiple product lines “pitch” what was latest and greatest. There were 8 product lines represented, and we each had 90-seconds.
As President Wilson stated, and many speakers before and after him know, it takes a LOT of time to condense content down to its core message. For this opportunity it took two days for me to boil down my material to meet the 90-second target. It was one of my biggest presentation challenges so far. In the end it went well and I got some great comments from my colleagues in the days after the pitch.
Rehearsing numerous times was one of the keys to being able to get my message across in the 90-seconds (I think was closer to 120). And yes I did rehearse with a stop watch.
The message of my pitch was that our customers are not really interested in our marketing clichés, our leading edge, state of the art, paradigm shifting, best of breed, revolutionary technologies. They were interested in how our technologies get them the results they are looking for.
So to get the best results from a presentation try boiling down your pitch, your idea, into 90-seconds. It will take awhile but it focuses you on what’s important. And you can leave out the marketing clichés – the leading edge, state of the art, paradigm shifting, best of breed, revolutionary things and talk about the important message you want your audience to leave the room with.
Refuse to be boring