Are Your Pitch Overruns Distracting Your Prospect?

Political party conference season is upon the UK. The smaller current coalition ‘partner’ has decamped to Glasgow. Only one national paper supported them at the last election.

One of their journalists wrote a piece informing the world of their wonderful traffic light system to rein in speech droners. A bit like how the orchestra fades in at the Oscars when the tears and thank yous drag on. In the above panoramic my white arrows point to the pair of green lights.

The first thing the initiate notices on entering … is the pair of traffic lights flanking the stage.

They’re there to govern the length of speeches – they go amber after a while, as a warning – but they’re pointed toward the audience, which turns it into a bit of a game:

will they beat the lights?

Presumably speakers also have some means of knowing their time is almost up, but a surprising number still stray into the red.

Final words honed to encapsulate, draw applause or incite laughter are ruined by the chair’s unceremonious interruption:

“Could you draw your remarks to a close, please.”

I immediately thought of how useful this would be when I’ve suffered trying to crank the eyelids open during listening to an interminable sales monologue.

Wouldn’t it make for great reality telly style treatment if you let your audience tell you when you are veering off course. Imagine those paddles from the recent Vince Vaughn Owen Wilson movie The Internship. When the group of new Google recruits (Nooglers) have to show either the red or green side to signify their true or false opinion.

Although how you create a triple-sided paddle to incorporate the amber side may be tricky, hey.

Maybe if there was an app so your audience could let you know anonymously how you rate as you progress. Something similar has been used by market researchers assessing politicians impact for years with in-speech live approval ratings. Although life being what it is, I wouldn’t recommend giving any audience permission to be on their phones during my slot. No way!

One point which could work though is nominating someone prospect-side to be the “Could you draw your remarks to a close, please” type-prompter, should you stray.

In any case, the main point is that if you rehearse, then your colleagues will fine tune your message, length and impact. There is rarely a stricter judge of brevity than an amassed set of peers. Let them go wild so that you triumph on stage.

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