When you speak to an audience, how long do you talk for: 60 minutes, 30 minutes, 10 minutes? Any of these are normal answers. What would you do if you only had two minutes to get your point across?
In my neck of the woods, a developer wants to build a gas station at the entrance to my neighborhood. There are good sides and bad sides to such development, but the neighborhood has decided that this is not something that they want to happen.
The way that you stop things like this from occurring is that you go down to city hall and attend a zoning hearing. At this hearing both sides get to present their sides and a hearing master will end up making a decision. The trick is that both sides were limited to 15 minutes of talking. Lots of people wanted to voice their objections so I was looking at having only 2 of those 15 minutes in which to speak. What could I say in order to have an impact?
When I sat down to get ready to figure out what I would say, I realized that I was dealing with no more than about 300 words (150 words /min x 2 min = 300 words). I knew that I needed to throw in some facts and stats for the zonning hearing master, but then I also needed to come up with some sound bites that any reporters who were attending could use as quotes.
So what did I come up with? You be the judge if any of these would stick in your mind if you hear them:
- If this gas station is permitted to be built, the zoning laws will have to be changed in order to account for the mountain of roadside memorials that will appear due to drunk drivers.
- The County might be tempted to change zoning rules in order to generate more revenue ; however, just like a teenager who gets a tattoo this would be a bad idea that the County would end up having to live with forever.
- A gas station that is open 24-hours a day and which is located close to a major highway will act like a bug light for all manner of criminals who are seeking an easy score.
The next day one of my “image statements” was quoted in the local paper. Not too shabby for a two minute speech!