In preparation to audition for HBO’s Aspen Comedy Festival in the 1990s, I spoke with Lou Viola, Senior Producer of Festival Talent, and a member of the panel evaluating my show.
While the running time of my full-length show was an hour, my actual audition had to be much shorter. I had to create a mini performance.
But how long should that mini version be? 15 minutes? 20? 25?
I asked Lou. His response: “I don’t care how long it is. Just make sure you’re done before I am.”
How often do we talk on and on when we meet someone, speaking way beyond the point when interest wanes? We get so excited about what we have to say that we neglect to notice if we’re boring the listener. This mistake arises in public speaking, presentations, sales, meetings, personal conversations, and marriages.
We have to be so attentive to our listener that when their interest fades, we adjust. Or better yet, our material and delivery have to be so riveting that the point of waning interest never arrives.
In response to the many shows he saw, Lou often commented, “That was a 25 minute show crammed into an hour.”
What a great line.
When it comes to your dog and pony show, whether it’s a solo act, a sales pitch, or a meeting, make sure you don’t wear out your welcome.