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How long is your speech?

Do you know that Ted Talk speakers are limited to 18 minutes? 

Why is that? According to the experts:


  • Adults can listen with understanding for about 90 minutes

  • Adults can listen with retention for about 20 minutes


Keep Point: Keep in mind that it's your audience's time, not yours. So, how long should your speech be?

That depends!

It depends on what your topic is, how much time you are allotted and the audience's expectations. Length also depends on who's in your audience: high school students; parents; single adults; families; business colleagues; customers or community citizens. I am not suggesting your speech be longer than 20 minutes. If you need more than 20 minutes to present your speech, break the talk down into bite-sized chunks of 20 minutes or less.

I've been in a situation where I'm the guest speaker at an event. In this case, I was allotted 40 minutes for my speech. Minutes before I was ready to speak, the organizer of the event started talking to the audience about upcoming events, news of interest to the audience. This lasted for 10 minutes. Now, I only had 30 minutes to say what I needed to say in 40 minutes.

What would do in this type of situation?