I had just completed putting together a PowerPoint presentation for a prospective client when I came across this article from Forbes: Why PowerPoint Presentations Always Die After 10 Minutes And How To Rescue Them. Naturally I was intrigued. It appears that most of us have about a 10-minute attention span, which means that as a presenter, it’s critical to think about the presentation in 10-minute increments. The author suggests inserting “soft breaks” every 10 minutes. Those might include:
- Video – Today, we’re so accustomed to viewing and sharing video and photos on our mobile devices, yet we don’t take advantage of inserting video into presentations frequently enough.
- A demonstration of your product or service – Don’t wait until the end of the presentation to get to the “meat” or you will have lost your audience.
- Second voices – The author points to Steve Jobs as the best example of using “second voices.” In a 90-minute presentation on a new product, Jobs would invite four or five other team members to help narrate the story.
- Audience involvement – Stop the presentation and engage with the audience. Ask questions and involve them in the presentation.
The author concludes that each of these examples of “soft breaks” gives the audience a mental break and the chance to re-engage with the presentation. Remember the 10-minute rule.