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The Pitch, or Death By PowerPoint?

When it comes to written pieces, spoken, presented or video, I break them down as follows:

Elevator Pitch/"What Do You Do?" (10-20 seconds)
"What Is This?" (3-5 minutes)
"How Does It Work?"/"What Does It Do?" (10-15 minutes)
The Menu/Function Crawl (30-60 minutes)

Each is geared toward the attention span of the intended reader. The more invested or engaged they are with your subject, the longer they will stay focused on it. The shorter ones are for those who neither one of you are sure is right for your intended result. Later on, you are simply refining the message-maybe even getting around objections.

How do you break down your business writing for the different time frames and attention spans available?

P.S. Oh, and the record for PowerPoint slides? From a trip to IBM Japan, 457 slides-I still keep it to remind me!


I'm surprised by how much this seems to resonate with my own style of writing. I tend to try and craft an experience with my prose and so spend a lot of time trying to put myself in the readers shoes.

"Attention span" wasn't something I considered directly, but it felt like it should have been among the first things I considered. Writing an interesting story will definitely expand the attention span, but I'm guessing there's a limit to this no matter how interesting the story is and that there are relatively predictable frames of attention span for given parts of a story like exposition, drama, action, etc in which by controlling the duration or pacing, you, in part, set a general tone or experience that underlies the content.

This is all theoretical, of course, but now I'm wondering just what the writing style and the mentality of a marketer might bring to my story.
Unique angle! Let those characters think for themselves and tell you, right? :)

I wrote here or on my blog an article where I talked about how writing stories is about starting with that first sentence grabbing your attention, asking an unanswered question... What I mean is, you don't put the meat, or "aha!" at the beginning of a sentence, but at the end. Like, they are rewarded for finishing the sentence. Let me see if I can make some lame example:

The car hit the tree just as they were rounding dead man's curve.

Just as they were rounding dead man's curve, the car hit a tree.

That is a horrible example, but you get the idea. That paragraph might not actually reveal how or why until the last part of the last sentence of the paragraph... You hopefully get the idea...

Next it pulls you into finishing the paragraph as you solve the puzzle of what you just jumped into (the story likely didn't start when you arrived)... That paragraph leads you to the next, and at the end of the page, they have to turn it to find out how more pieces fit together. That is done for each chapter, and the same with chapters as a group.

Every book/story, chapter, page, and paragraph is crafted the exact same way the sentence is. I mean, have you ever heard a joke when someone gives you the punchline early? How did that feel? Where was the suspense?

I've tried to remember & use this kind of style (can it be called that?) in my business writing. In academia (which is the worst kind of writing to prepare you for the real world), you tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, then review what you just told them.

Can you imagine a story in that structure?!


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Yumi Koizumi
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