The Ten-Minute Rule


(By Randy Lane) Research studies reveal people get bored during meetings and presentations within ten minutes. A recent Finnish study of 380 virtual work meetings found viewers feeling drowsy (and some nearly fell asleep) after just ten minutes.

How do you keep your airstaff or sales staff from checking their phones or zoning out during meetings? Communication coach and Harvard instructor Carmine Gallo urges presenters to stick to the ten-minute rule.

The Ten-Minute Rule

The Ten-Minute Rule means to break the pattern in meetings and presentations at least every ten minutes to keep people engaged. There are several ways to create what Gallo calls “brain breaks,” including:

  • To re-engage participants’ attention, give them something to do with a physical or mental exercise. In-person meetings could include a whiteboard exercise, such as generating a to-do list for an upcoming event.

In virtual meetingsyou could play a segment of audio from a competing show and ask the talent to evaluate it. In sales meetings, you could explain a digital revenue concept and then ask the team to explain it to one another.

  • Switch Topics: Cover a topic within ten minutes, then switch to a new one. We recommend switching topics on long-form morning and afternoon radio shows every five minutes to maintain audience engagement.
  • Video and audio wake people up and re-engage their awareness. Audio and phone calls on radio and podcast shows interrupt the pattern and regain listeners’ attention. Audio sound effects used appropriately are also pattern disrupters.
  • Silence IS golden. Pausing for a few seconds before or after an important point gets people’s attention and makes them lean in. A longer pause when switching topics is a particularly effective attention-getter.

Short on information and long on stories

Facts, figures, and even graphs lull people into boredom. Always illustrate information and points with stories and examples to maintain interest. Well-told stories attract and sustain our attention.

All the distractions competing for our attention make it difficult to keep people glued to your presentation or meeting. Applying the Ten-Minute Rule and breaking the pattern will keep your staff or audience alert and even captivated.

Randy Lane is the owner of the Randy Lane Company, which coaches and brands radio and television personalities, business professionals, sports personalities, entrepreneurs, and pop culture artists, helping them master communication skills to have an impact on their audiences. Read Randy’s Radio Ink archives here.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here