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« Ropke Linkage | Main | Fact for the Day »

August 28, 2008

Ideal Speech Length

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

It's political convention time and, for some strange reason, I got to thinking about the length of speeches.

As I write this, Obama has yet to deliver his acceptance speech. But the speechifying at the Democrat convention is nearly over and I'm pleased to report that most of the ones I heard were blessedly brief. Even Bill Clinton who, given ten minutes, went on for only around 20, discounting applause. That's a big improvement over his State of the Union speeches that seemed to soak up an hour or so.

I suppose the ideal speech length is equivalent to Abraham Lincoln's (well, he's the guy I 've heard it linked to) quip that one's legs should be long enough to reach the floor. In other words, it should be long enough to do the job, but no longer. That, and the speaker should leave 'em wanting more.

Nevertheless, I hark back to the monthly army "training" sessions I had to endure while stationed at Fort Meade, Maryland. Part of the drill was a "character guidance" segment given by one of the chaplains. The best of that lot was Father Nosser. He'd walk into the room. light up a non-filtered Camel cigarette, droop himself over the lectern and start talking. Eight or so minutes later, when the cigarette was about 3/8ths of an inch long, he'd grind it out and stop his lecture.

Smart guy, that Father Nosser.



posted by Donald at August 28, 2008


Oh, you are dreaming if think this coming speech would be that long.

Posted by: vanderleun on August 28, 2008 8:31 PM

vanderleun -- For some reason I don't think Obama is as shrewd as Fr. Nosser.

Good thing Fidel Castro isn't the nominee.

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on August 28, 2008 9:11 PM

"Leave 'em wanting more" -- you don't see much of that particular strategy around these days, do you?

Another one that seems to have gone by the wayside: "Undersell. Overdeliver."

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on August 29, 2008 1:24 AM

Another issue with the Fidel Castro speeches is that the applause would go on seemingly forever. No audience member would dare be the first one to stop applauding.

Posted by: Peter on August 29, 2008 10:08 AM

Ideal speech length, I've heard it said, is like a woman's skirt: long enough to cover what it needs to, short enough to keep your interest.

Posted by: c.o. jones on August 29, 2008 10:33 AM

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