The perfect length of a presentation is …

New research puts a specific time limit on the ideal presentation, but a media trainer says the answer isn’t this simple.

Twenty minutes. At least that’s what new research from Maureen Murphy at the University of North Texas (UNT) suggests. Author Susan Weinschenk, writer of the forthcoming book “100 Things Every Presenter Needs to Know About People,” agrees. She points out that the terrific TED talks are usually 20 minutes long. “These same presentations stretched out to an hour might not be quite so brilliant,” she says. But the mass media’s headlines about the research are overly simplified. Inc. magazine, for example, used this subhead: “Research shows there’s an ideal duration for a presentation. Exceed it at your peril.” That might lead readers to conclude that no talk should exceed 20 minutes, but that would be a flawed conclusion that can lead to disastrous results. Still, this new research is a useful guide to speakers, so this post will help you use it to your advantage. First, here’s Weinschenk’s summary of the UNT research:

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