What if you needed to describe what matters most in 90 seconds?
Yesterday, 28 associations met with our Governor-Elect to give ideas about what could improve the business climate in Maine. Organized by two association execs, each participating association got 90 seconds to highlight its top concern(s); with the option to provide further detail and/or additional concerns in writing. Each association had one member (could not be association staff) "at the table"; and could have up to 3 additional (max) attending in the audience (CEO, lobbyist, other member/staff.)
A huge amount of info was communicated, including significant time at the end for Q&A, in about 90 minutes. An accomplishment that would seem unlikely when getting direct input and involvement of 28 groups.
The AE moderating the session had a yellow card to indicate that 60 seconds were up; and a red card to indicate time was up (30 seconds later). It worked amazingly well, and here's why:
1. All participating were told the time limit at the outset invitation to the meeting.
2. The 2 time-used cards were very visible to all, and she was sitting directly next to the Governor-Elect so speaker could not miss it.
3. If only 90 seconds, there is no choice but to be very specific and focused.
Note: The first speaker spent time explaining the size and purpose of that association, and ran out of time before even getting to an issue. Everyone following only said their name, business, and association - and got instantly into the issue.
4. Encouraging delivery of additional comments in writing ensured all knew they would have their entire message and issues delivered too.
Also, the media was invited and sufficient space was provided around the table for the photographers and news cameras to move around during the discussion. Which is another kudo to the AE organizing the function - the meeting was positively set up to facilitate media interaction - from a lobby area for media interviews, to place cards with names of attendees/organizations, to having it able to be live-streamed.
Lesson: Say it in 90 seconds. It's enough time to deliver what is most important, has no choice but to include relevant sound bites, and keeps the meeting moving.
It was a great format for delivering info from a large number of associations.
When I read about the first speaker running out of time, I couldn't help but think about tired press releases and membership marketing materials that focus on the history, accomplishments and leadership of the association. The reader loses interest before getting to the "what's in it for me?" part of the copy. Sounds like a stimulating 90 minutes.
Great format! The "elevator" pitch clearly works across all channels. With so much information overload these days (as well as the Twitter influence) conveying value in as few words as possible is vital.
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