Sunday, September 27, 2015

What can you communicate in 20 seconds or less?

More than you might guess. You can concisely answer a question, like What can you do for me?

On August 23rd in her Speak Schmeak blog Lisa Braithwaite posted about Storytelling in 30 seconds - can you do it? and showed a TV commercial as an example. But, there also have been 20-second TV commercials which famously were used back in the 1952 presidential campaign series Eisenhower Answers America. Here is one example:

You can find three more videos on a web page at the Museum of the Moving Image. Look at the line of Republican ones and click on the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 7th (which also is shown above). A web page on 5 Most Effective Campaign Ads mentioned that there was a total of 40 in that series.

Why is there a drawing of a fireman with a hose at the beginning of this post? He is a polite illustration of what that roughly 20-second time interval also represents - the average time it takes for an elephant (or any mammal the size of a house cat or larger) to urinate. This year’s Ig-Nobel Prize for physics was won by a 2014 scientific article by Patricia J. Yang et al in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences titled Duration of urination does not change with body size.    

In 2011 I blogged about The 99 (or 100) second presentation, and in 2012 I blogged about 101-word stories and 50-second elevator speeches.

How about ten seconds? Back in 2007 in his HELLO my name is blog Scott Ginsberg discussed networking via 10 different approaches for your 10-second commercial. Sodastream had a 10-second TV commercial.

What can you cram into just five seconds? A Glenn Hartzheim Dodge TV commercial said:

“You’re buying a car and you’re worried about financing. Go see Glenn!

At half that or 2-1/2 seconds we finally run out of room for words. About all that will fit is brief song titles like Todd Rundgren’s Hello, It’s Me or Joni Mitchell’s Help Me

Adding the 5, 10, and 20 second TV commercials produces this spectrum of nine brief presentation formats:

The fireman was adapted from this 1858 image at the Library of Congress.

No comments: