We live in a inbound marketing strategy age, but your marketing and sales team still has to conduct meetings with potential clients, customers, and amongst your staff. Effectively managing meetings that last longer than 10 minutes takes a basic understanding of how the human brain works. We may have evovled to a level that allows us to create AI, but we are still hard wired to process information and pay attention from thousands of years ago.
Holding a Meeting Longer than 10-Minutes? That's Your First Challenge
Studies confirm that typically, attention decreases after 10 minutes into a meeting. After that point, its imperative you find a way to reset your audience in order to reconnect and restart having their attention. If you don’t you will find that most of your audience has mentally “checked out.”
Somewhere around the 10-minute mark the brain begins to make choices influenced by both genetics and culture. It is imperative to find a way to obtain and retain somebody’s attention for 10 minutes. Otherwise the rest of your key marketing and sales presentation points will go “in one ear and out the other” without registering. To have an effective sales presentations or marketing meetings, you must learn how to break them up into 10-minute segments.
How do you organize a meeting around this 10-minute rule?
Give your listeners a break!
You may be an expert at your subject matter or know exactly what you want to cover in the meeting agenda. Think about the listener. Are they new to the subject matter? Do they know what you are going to cover? In what increments are you going to cover the subject matter?
Do one thing at a time.
Remember the brain is a sequential processor, unable to pay attention to throw things at the same time. Although we may praise multitasking, research clearly shows that it reduces productivity and increases mistakes. Try creating an interruption free zone during the day—turn off email, phone and social media sites and see whether you get more done. There is software you can download to block certain websites for a certain period of time.
Divide presentations into 10-minute segments.
Live by the 10-minute rule. Create presentations and meeting agendas people can pay attention.
Organize your meeting, your presentation, your content to not take more than 10- minutes. Create each segment around a core concept. Start with the big picture, the gist of the concept, explainable in one minute or less. Then move into a sequential, hierarchal presentation of the details supporting the core concept.
General idea first, details after.
Ideally, develop the material in a manner that allows each detail to be traced back to the one core concept. During your presentation of the details, pause and explicitly explain the link between the detail and the core concept.
In a meeting you can step aside and let the participants know “where they are” in the meeting agenda. This also helps in telling the audience where that concept or item fits into the rest of the presentation or meeting. It reduces the brain trying to multitask by both focusing in listening while also simultaneously figuring out where the information fits into the rest of what you are covering.
Bait the hook.
Breaking your presentation or meeting into 10-minute segments is pretty easy for the first 10-minute segment. It is the next segment and the one after that and after that that becomes challenging.
Now that you have completed the first 10-minute segment and created the “break”, you now need to get their attention back for the next segment. How do you do this? They need a relevant segue that is compelling to break into the next 10-minute segment fresh. One that will trigger a response oriented towards the speaker and captures the executive functions necessary to smoothly transition.
Do we know anything so potentially compelling? WE sure do. An emotionally charged stimuli. So, every 10 minutes in the presentation give the audience a break from the mass information and send them a relevant emotional charge, a “hook”.
Successful hooks follow three principles.
1) The hook has to trigger an emotion
Fear, laughter, happiness, nostalgia, incredulity; the entire emotional range can be stimulated. They will all work. For example, think of the three basic emotional triggers wired into us. Use a survival issue. Describe a threatening event, a reproductive event or one that triggers pattern matching. Narratives can be especially strong if crisp and to the point. Be imaginative. Anecdotes work well. Vocabulary miscues can be good. For example, use a slogan that incorporates a vocabulary miscue to catch their attention. Electrolux vacuums are made by a foreign corporation. Someone created an ad campaign without taking into account the translation gap. out what “if it sucks, it must be an Electrolux.”
2) The hook has to be relevant
The hook cannot just be from left field. If it is irrelevant, you will get their attention to reset, however, it can create a disjointed pathway or be seen as offending them by not taking the audience seriously. Audiences are good at detecting disorganization. Select content that engages the audience. This will help them stay in the flow of the material, while taking that transitional break.
3) The hook has to go between segments
You can choose to deploy hooks in one of two ways, as long as they go between 10- minute segments. Put the hook at the beginning of the segment, looking forward, introducing new material, and anticipating some aspect of the content. Place it at the end looking backwards, summarizing the material, repeating some aspect of the content.
As you use the 10-minute segments in an hour presentation, you may find that after the first two or three, you may be able to skip one and still keep attention. Whether you need one every 10-minutes depends on your content, your voice, how you present the information or meeting agenda in a way that is engaging and having an awareness of the audience level of knowledge of the content.
What we do know for sure, is that the brain will not stay focused on content that is boring. It takes time to master. Be patient and supportive of yourself. Prepare and practice. You don’t like to sit through boring presentations or meetings and neither does your audience or meeting participants.
Good marketing consultants understand that inbound marketing strategies still include meetings. As Homer Simpson points out, “According to the National Statistics Council, 37% of employee time is spent in meetings."
Let’s make sure our meetings are valuable.