I watched Olympic track events this summer, and the ones I watched the most were the shortest ones. The greatest thing about sprints is that there is a winner seconds after the gun goes off. The network only shows highlights from the marathon, because no one will sit and watch an entire marathon on television. Watching an endurance race, you are dependent upon someone else to tell you where the runners are and show you how it all comes out in the end.
It is different for the runner. The person in the race knows where they are, how they are doing in comparison to their pace, and how much farther they have to go. They have mile markers to show them how far they’ve gone and a course map and arrows to show them where they are going. When I completed my marathon, I always knew where I was. The implication for communications:
how you plan to get there.
My husband was there to cheer me on. He had the course map and my estimated times. He showed up at certain checkpoints and waited to cheer for me. I was at the first few checkpoints early. I almost didn’t make it to the next-to-last checkpoint. He walked a mile downhill and waited for me, then walked up the hill with me, encouraging me all the way. He was there at the finish line an hour after he thought I’d get there, weary from waiting but glad to see me finish.
Did I just describe your communication? Do you know where you have been and where you are going? Do you know the main points in between? Have you shared that with your audience? Are you making them work to keep up with you? Are they sticking with you to the end, perhaps glad you finally got through it?
and how you plan to get there, and then stick to that plan.
The audience used to watching 15 second commercials and reading 140 character tweets is going to be challenged by a 30-minute sermon or 50-minute lecture. If you break it up into shorter segments, moving from point to point and highlighting the major milestones, you make it easier for them to stay connected until the end.