The Power of a Short Speech


At cred, we love to collaborate and give everyone on the team a chance to be a voice for the industry. Here is what one of our Senior Associates, Anastasia Hardin, would like to share about how to capture attention when speaking.

In today’s connected, app-for-everything world, distractions are plentiful at any time of day. We’ve all felt that “smart phone reach” before: we’re sitting in a presentation, maybe 10 minutes in, and our mind wanders to that email we need to respond to, the crowdfunding campaign we’ve been monitoring, the engagement on our latest social media post, and oh wait - Buzzfeed just pinged us with another Top 10 article that we just have to read…

How do you keep an audience’s attention when they have the world at their fingertips?

While there are many pointers out there (read more here or here) today we want to focus on perhaps the most important factor: TIME.

As attention has become more of a scarce resource, the length of a speech plays a big role in how engaged and enlightened your audience will be. Keep it simple and short. Listening takes energy which can be draining. Too much information can prevent understanding.

So what is the ideal length of a presentation? Some would argue 5 minutes is enough to get a point across, but in most settings, anything under 20 minutes is the real sweet spot.

And if you don’t believe us - go check out the most watched TED Talks. 80% of them are under 20 minutes.

TED Curator, Chris Anderson, on keeping it short and relevant:

"[18 minutes] is long enough to be serious and short enough to hold people’s attention. It turns out that this length also works incredibly well online. It’s the length of a coffee break. So, you watch a great talk, and forward the link to two or three people. It can go viral, very easily. The 18-minute length also works much like the way Twitter forces people to be disciplined in what they write. By forcing speakers who are used to going on for 45 minutes to bring it down to 18, you get them to really think about what they want to say. What is the key point they want to communicate? It has a clarifying effect. It brings discipline."

Photo Of TED Curator Chris Anderson by Jame Duncan Davidson at

Photo Of TED Curator Chris Anderson by Jame Duncan Davidson at

If you are thinking, “how can I possibly get everything I need to say in under 20 minutes?” -- stop a moment and remember the most powerful speeches you’ve ever heard in person or from history. Chances are, they were short and simple.

Maybe they included:

If you want to avoid looking out over an audience with their heads buried in their smartphones, then keep your comments short. When you connect your powerful ideas with brevity, you will achieve the greatest impact with your audience.