“Time waits for no man: You have to move faster just to stay even.”
You can get your point across in 30 seconds. Media research proves it. That is why most television commercials are 30 seconds long. Television commercials capitalize on it. People are only able to give their full, undivided attention for 30 seconds. *Bites*
Learn how to get your listener’s attention, keep his/her interest, and make your point—all in thirty seconds!
Let’s start with Attention Span!
The average person’s attention span is 30 seconds. If you try to focus your attention on, for instance, a chair, you may find that your mind will wander off within 30 seconds. If the object could do something interesting like move or talk, it might hold your attention for another 30 seconds. But, without motion or change, it won’t hold your attention.
Advertisers must get their point across within 30 seconds or they will lose your attention. To make maximum use of this short amount of time, television and radio news have developed the sound bite.The average television news story is one and a half minutes: 30 seconds to set up the story, 30 seconds to show the clip or play a part of the interview, and 30 seconds to wrap up.
The same applies to you. If you cannot get your point across within 30 seconds, you will lose your listener’s attention.
So let’s break this down:
Step 1: Objective
“Often, there’s only time for a few words, so they had better be the right ones.”
Know what you want to achieve with your message. What is the purpose of making that phone call, or starting that conversation? What point do you want to make?
You may waste a valuable opportunity if you give a mixed message or if you are not clear on what your goal is. To get what you want, have a single, clear-cut purpose. Ask yourself:
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Why do I want to send this message?
- Why do I want to have this conversation?
Step 2: Know Who to Target
Once you have a clear goal in mind, direct it to the right person: the person who can get you what you want. Once you know who can get you what you want, find out about that person. Know as much as you can, including what that person wants from you in return. What is the one thing that will get a positive response? Put yourself in his shoes.
Step 3: Find the Right Approach
Strategize the best way to communicate your objective to another person. Form a thought or a sentence that will be the root of your idea, question or goal. Ask yourself:
- What do I really want to say?
- What is the foundation of my plan?
- What is the best sentence to show what I want?
- How will this relate to the needs or interests of my listener?
Choose only one approach. It must relate to your objective because the right approach will keep you focused on attaining it.
Step 4: Develop Your Subject
“Know what you want, know who can give it to you and know how to get it: Those are the essentials of every form of spoken or written communication.”
A lawyer who is addressing a jury will get their attention with a hook and will end with a plea. Everything in between is the subject, which reinforces and proves his point.
The subject contains some or all of the well-known formula: who, what, where, when, why and how. A 30-second message is the same. To develop your subject, know your objective, listener, and approach, and then ask:
- What am I talking about?
- Who is involved?
- Where is it?
- Why is it?
- How do I do it?
Then, evaluate whether your answers strengthen and explain your goal. Do they apply to your listener? Do they connect with your approach?
Step 5: Close the Message
A message is wasted without a definite request to close it. If you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it. Decide on your close in advance. Ask yourself: What do I want from my listener? The answer is the close of your message. You can close with either a demand for action or a demand for reaction.
Step 6: Create a Good Impression
Your 30-second message might be terrific, but if you deliver it in a mumbling monotone with your eyes downcast and your hands stuffed in your pockets, you will lose your listeners. People can size you up in 30 seconds or less. Their first impression will last a long time, so make sure it is good. How you deliver your message involves several factors: facial expression, eye contact, posture, gestures, voice and physical appearance.
Your facial expression is important. A warm, genuine smile will give your listener confidence in you. Make eye contact as is the best way to make a point and show you are sincere. Be aware of what your body language and gestures reveal. Stand/sit with your back straight but don’t go for a rigid posture.
If you’re trying to be someone you’re not, people will notice and be uncomfortable. Above all, be yourself.
“The right 30-second message will, in the final analysis, enable you to get your point across and keep it where it belongs: in the mind of your listener.”
This article is based on the book How To Get Your Point Across in 30 Seconds or Less by Milo O. Frank