Our brains are lazy. According to molecular biologist John Medina in his 2008 book Brain Rules, the mind gets bored at 10 minutes. Next time you are in a not-too-exciting meeting -- ergo, the typical corporate meeting with a PowerPoint presentation -- check yourself when you check the time. It will be in 10 minutes.
A lot of our clients have very complicated products and services, and the story they need to tell cannot be told in a mere 10 minutes. Pharmaceutical companies have presentations that encompass everything about a drug: its molecular composition, uses, diseases it treats, clinical trials methodology and results, risks, legal disclosures and other information. Those presentations can grow to well over 100 slides. So what do you do?
To paraphrase Steve Jobs, do something big. His presentations were 30 minutes to an hour long. But every 10 minutes he’d break up the monotony by, say, introducing a new speaker, using a prop, or cutting to video. He broke up the monotony to keep listeners riveted.
Break up your presentation into 10-minute chunks. After 10 minutes, make a change. Switch presenters, introduce a prop, ask the audience a question. Do something to break up the monotony. When you have a very long presentation, break it down into sections and make an obvious change to re-engage your audience.