Posts Tagged ‘Ronald Reagan’

FAQ: How Long Should My Speech Be?


Twenty to thirty minutes. Next question?

But seriously, folks…I strongly recommend to the executives I work with that they limit their remarks to 20 to 30 minutes. If you go longer, my experience has been (and research shows) that audiences start to let their minds wander, even if the speaker is as powerful as Barack Obama or Ronald Reagan.

To be sure, Steve Jobs was a master presenter, and he could keep audiences in the palm of his hand for a couple hours. However, if you look at complete videos of his presentations, you’ll find out that he doesn’t get carried away by the sound of his own voice. He uses video and audio clips. He brings out props to demonstrate, and he brings on other speakers.

Sometimes when I make my plea for brevity, the communications VP will tell me that the event organizers have asked the CEO to speak for “an hour.” My advice is always to keep the prepared remarks under 30 minutes, and fill the remaining time with Q&A. Or pull a Steve Jobs and bring along a great video.