This is a terrific article by Maria Popova, George Plimpton on the Art of Public Speaking and How to Overcome Stage Fright from brainpickings.org – enjoy!
“No speech was ever too short,” a duo of legendary admen famously advised, and Plimpton agrees: He wrote this the year TED was founded and, like any great oracle of culture, he intuited the format-meme that TED would eventually rein in, arguing for the supremacy of the 20-minute talk over the hour-long academic-style lecture:
As anyone who listens to speeches knows, brevity is an asset. Twenty minutes are ideal. An hour is the limit an audience can listen comfortably.
In mentioning brevity, it is worth mentioning that the shortest inaugural address was George Washington’s — just 135 words. The longest was William Henry Harrison’s in 1841. he delivered a two-hour, nine-thousand -word speech into the teeth of a freezing northeast wind. He came down with a cold the following day, and a month later he died of pneumonia.