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Chapter 13. Getting Organized > Be Sincere, Be Brief, Be Seated - Pg. 101

Getting Organized 101 Remember: No matter how good your speech is--and no matter how well you speak--people get cranky sitting in those hard wooden chairs and listening, listening, listening. The "20-Minute" Rule Twenty minutes is a good benchmark for the average speech in honor of the average occasion. There are exceptions, of course. Obviously, a wedding speech should be much, much shorter, while the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention will likely run a tad longer (especially if you're using it as a career builder, as Bill Clinton tried in 1988). Clinton was widely criticized for the length of his speech. Twenty minutes is fair to both you and the audience. Of course, if you need more time to make your point, don't be afraid to take it. Just make sure you feel confident that you really do need it. Be Sincere, Be Brief, Be Seated Listening to a speech is very different from reading one. Because your audience can't go back to your speech and review confusing parts, it's important for you to provide an especially clear organ- ization and to repeat your central points. Every speech needs a beginning, a middle, and an end. The following three-part structure is simple--and, best of all, it works. If you use this organization, your speech will be clear, well-organized, and powerful. Here's the way that I recommend that you break down a 20-minute speech: · Tell 'em what you're going to tell 'em. In the first part of your speech, tell your audience what your themes and major points are. This should take 1­3 minutes. (See Chapter 15, "Start at the Very Beginning: A Very Good Place to Start.")