How Fast is Your Brain?
When I first saw this photo, I knew instantly what was afoot. My brain quickly unraveled the puzzle. I saw a Y and a partial M spelled out in candles and there it was for me. It all smelled of romance. Here was a marriage proposal in the making. But, it happened so quickly that I began to wonder if I was exceptionally fast. I’m no genius. So no I couldn’t be alone. Anyone could and would jump to my conclusion.
The more I thought more about this and how quickly we come to an understanding and I started wondering how often I’ve beaten an idea to death long after my listeners or readers had grasped it, were done and had moved on. We are all so quick that there is a very fine balance between giving just the right amount of information, but not too little, and beating an idea into the ground. I had a friend who began every story he told by saying, “Oh wait! I need to go back to the beginning.” Rarely did he need to give us the backstory he thought was essential for us to appreciate his tale. And sadly, with a silent groan, we knew that we were in for a long, drawn out, and, unnecessarily detailed story.
Not that long ago the general advice to presenters was: first, tell ’em what you are going to say, then say it, and finally wrap up by telling ’em what you said. No longer is that the standard advice. You run the risk of losing your audience quickly to boredom before you’ve even finished your preamble. Your audience is impatiently waiting for you to tell ’em what they’ve come for and is exasperated, (politely exasperated to be sure), by your careful and time-consuming outline of what you’ve prepared for them.
Take a bit of advice from the movie studios. Not long ago, every movie began with a title sequence listing all the actors, and key personnel like the director, the composer, hair by Irene, etc. etc. As many as ten minutes were devoted to crediting the little-known artists who worked behind the scenes. Even then movies studios knew that audiences needed to be coddled during the titles. Title designers like Saul Bass who could make the experience entertaining got rich.
Today, some movie studios have dispensed with opening titles completely. The movie starts with a mighty roar and carries on to the end without a break. If titles are shown at all at the movie’s start they are short and often appear over the action. Today in the age of GCI (computer generated imagery) , credits can last fifteen minutes since hundreds of programmers and designers must be acknowledged. There is certainly no way today’s audience would sit still for that many minutes of lists. In fact, very few audience members are still in the theatre when the curtain rings down on the last credit when they are shown at the end of the movie. Imagine how devastating it would be at the box office if these credits ran at the beginning of the movie.
So take notice of what Hollywood is doing today and apply it to your presentation. Take away the deadwood at the front and jump right into your story. Move quickly to establish your credibility and your rapport. It takes only a few seconds for someone to decide if you are worth listening to, so make your first seconds count.
32 of 365 photos by Lucia.
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