Mark Twain famously said “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” I wonder what Mark Twain would say today in the era of tweets and vines. These new platforms challenge us to distill our thoughts into a concise message that will engage our audience without overburdening them. If you’re familiar with TED talks or Ignite, you’ve seen experts across various fields share complex ideas and visions in a short amount of time. So we know it’s possible, but as I’ve come to learn, it’s a substantial challenge.
Over the last month, I’ve been preparing to deliver a presentation to more than 100 attendees on IT innovation as part of Luminaries Live! in the Broadcast Center at CA World ’13. The catch is that it has to be delivered in 5 minutes.
I’ll admit, I was a little nervous. I’d be sharing the stage with nine other industry experts including Robert Scoble of Rackspace, author Michael Hugos and John Michelsen, CTO of CA Technologies, but I’ve spoken at length on IT innovation before and I co-authored a book on the topic, so I wasn’t too concerned about developing the content.
My initial thought was to share 10 cool stories of IT innovation with the audience, highlighting how companies are using the latest IT trends, like mobility, cloud computing and DevOps to transform their organization and deliver innovation. The topic was a natural extension of the research that I had done for the Innovative CIO, but as I began to look for additional stories, I was really inspired by articles and case studies that I came across in Smart Enterprise Magazine and the Innovation Luminaries video series. My list of 10 case studies suddenly grew to 15 and 15 case studies in 5 minutes means I’d have 20 seconds to talk about each story – if I sneezed, I’d be done for!
I had to narrow down the list. After a grueling vetting process and forcing myself to make some tough choices, I was able to narrow it down back to 10. “Great,” I thought, “now all I have to do is create the slides, write a script and I’m good as ready.” Well, a few days ago I had my first dry run with the organizers of Luminaries Live! and my presentation was long enough to fill the spots of two speakers. I pictured a long cartoon cane coming out from behind the curtains to yank me off the stage when my time was up.
Needless to say, 10 stories in 5 minutes may have been a little over-ambitious. But the stories were just too cool to leave out entirely. In the end, I appealed to the god-of-brevity, Twitter, to come to my rescue.
I decided that I’d focus my talk on 5 case studies, spending close to a full minute on each, and at the end of the presentation, I’d share a slide with the audience with a super-brief reference to the other case studies, advising folks to follow me @AndiMann on Twitter to learn more. Look out for more details on all 10 of my favorite innovation stories on Twitter by following the #CAWorld hashtag.
This post was originally published on the CA.com Innovation Today blog.