08/08/2013 08:14 am ET Updated Oct 08, 2013

How Quickly Can You Capture Their Attention?

When asked how he managed to write such gripping horror novels, Stephen King once responded, "I cut out the boring stuff," and so can you. It takes a tenth of a second to form an impression. So imagine how difficult it is to hold others' interest for even five minutes as you are required to do at Ignite events. That's a short time for you and a looooooong time to them. For practice in being memorably brief, find or start an Ignite group. They are popping up all over the world. As in Pecha Kucha gatherings you are limited to 20 slides, advancing automatically every 15 seconds.

Perhaps these gatherings are wildly popular because people must get to the point sooner. Consequently they are usually idea-packed, lively and convivial.

Brevity Is Best

Nicknamed "Silent Cal," President Calvin Coolidge was once challenged by a reporter, saying, "I bet someone that I could get more than two words out of you." Coolidge responded, "You lose."

The notion of crafting six word memoirs really took off after Smith Magazine shared this poignant one written by Ernest Hemingway: "For Sale: baby shoes, never worn." This distilling power of brevity, combined with specificity, may be why the one-minute videos, made via Japjot Sethi's Gloopt, are catching on.

Pithiness Pays Off For Other Reasons

When required to be brief, for example, we gain clarity about what we really mean -- or have to offer. As Mark Twain once wrote, in a slower-paced time, "I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead."

In just one minute you can say a lot -- and get specific sooner -- as Guy Kawasaki shows with his seven tips in one-minute videos. That way, people are less likely to go on a mental vacation. (Have you ever felt that people stopped listening before you stopped talking?) Here are my seven tips, from "Offer Actionable Ideas" to "Leverage the Power of Your Praise" and "Inject Interestingness Into Your Message."

In just one minute you might provide a:
  • Helpful tip that pulls in customers as Jay Baer advocates in Youtility
  • Way to praise, proclaim love, or announce awards or a new product feature
  • Sneak preview of a speaker for your upcoming conference
  • Reason why you like a product, as a customer in a company-sponsored contest
  • Training suggestion for employees