Sixty Second Talk

Expressing one's ideas briefly is no easy task, but being able to do so is a really valuable life skill. It's often all the time you get with another person, but it is the kind of time you CAN get from almost anyone.

First thing: it is not a natural talent. If anything, our natural tendencies run in the opposite direction. We prefer to start conversations with getting-to-know you chit-chat that deliberately avoids substance. Bottom line: it's a skill you work on.

Second thing is obvious: you can't say everything; you have to make choices. The first is topic. Decide what want to talk about.

Next, do some brainstorming: what are all the things you could say about this? Make a list.

  • blah 01
  • factoid 02
  • other thing 03
  • stuff 04
  • substuff 05
  • big issue 06
  • interesting observation 07
  • one time, at band camp 08
  • and also 09
  • which comes in two types 10

This list is too long and too narrow and unordered.

We can fix the length and width by grouping things. What points are subpoints or parts of other points?

We fix the order by asking two questions:

  • What is most important? If you can only say three things, what should they be?
  • What is the storyline? What narrative can you see in (or impose on) the items in the list

Finally, you need to find out whether you can actually do it in about a minute. Write it out and time yourself reading it.

This one took me about 1:10 to read (omitting dramatic pauses).

The limit for a one minute spiel is about 200 words. To be safe, you might aim at 150-175.

Form