Short talks are harder

Tomorrow morning I am supposed to give a four minute talk. And that seems hard.

I’m used to giving hour long talks, or 30 minute talks, or even 10 minute talks. But there is something about a four minute talk that brings things to a whole other level.

When you only have four minutes, every moment counts. I like showing live demos in my talks, but in that amount of time, your live demo needs to work right on cue, without fail.

For one thing, you won’t have time to try your demo again. For another thing, if it doesn’t work, you’ve disrupted the rhythm of the entire experience.

On the other hand, if you manage to get a four minute talk right, it’s wonderful thing. When every second counts, what you say can have a lot of impact.

I’m reminded of Blaise Pascal’s famous apology: “Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.”**

** I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.

2 thoughts on “Short talks are harder”

  1. I recall going to a county planning meeting. Typically, anybody who wants to speak is given a strict two minute window, then buzzed off the microphone. I’d carefully planned my remarks for two minutes.

    But this time, the meeting was extra crowded (it was a controversial topic), and they announced the speaking time was now cut to one minute. I had just barely enough time to cross out the extra text before my name was called.

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