We like to think we’re super cool in the present, with faith the rate of change we deal with is unlike anything ever in history.
Surely our lightening talks and TED talks, with high speed pacing and dense information, must be recent inventions. I even wrote a Forbes article about this fascinating trend. But it turns out, as is often the case, the roots of an innovation go back further than we tend to believe.
Enter the four minute men. A group of people who worked for the U.S. government in 1917 to convey important information to the masses quickly and eloquently.
Many of the techniques and ethos are echoed by the speaking advice experts give today:
You aren’t there to give them an ear full but a mind full.
Talk to the back row of your audience; you’ll hit everything closer in.
Be natural and direct. Sincerity wears no frills.
Don’t fear to be colloquial. Slang that your hearers understand is better than Latin that they don’t.
Don’t figure the importance of your job on a time basis. Four hours of thinking may go into four minutes of speaking.