By Carmine Gallo
There’s something magical about 10 minutes and smart entrepreneurs know it.
John Medina, a molecular biologist at the University of Washington, says we have a built-in clock that causes us to tune out of a pitch, presentation, or lecture after 10 minutes. Fortunately, there are proven ways to make the most of that time.
As a communication coach, I know this 10-minute rule is true. For example, Richard Branson used to hold pitch competitions at his home on Necker Island. Each entrepreneur was given 10 minutes to pitch their idea. Branson told me that if you can’t get the idea across in 10 minutes, it’s too complicated.
Similarly, 2 years ago, military instructors teaching advanced tactics in nuclear weapons proliferation asked me to speak to their class at an airbase in New Mexico. The class had been assigned one of my public speaking books to help them communicate concisely.
One instructor told me, “These officers will be sent to the Pentagon and other parts of the world after this class. They will be asked to share their analysis of a situation at a moment’s notice with senior leaders. And they’ll get ten minutes to do it — if they’re lucky.”
So whether you’re pitching to a celebrity entrepreneur, sharing key ideas to leaders, or on a call with a potential investor, here’s how to make the most of the 10 minutes you have by answering three questions.
1. What’s the idea?
Journalists often say “don’t bury the lead.” A pitch or informational presentation isn’t a novel where your audience has the patience to wait until the end to find out what happens.
Michael Moritz, an early investor in Google, once told me that Sergey Brin and Larry Page explained their idea in one sentence. “Google organizes the world’s information and makes it universally accessible.” In one sentence, Moritz was hooked.
The same strategy works for an informational presentation. If you’re meeting to discuss the new budget, start with a headline: