INTERMISSION 1Obey the Ten-Minute Rule

Your audience checks out after ten minutes. Not in eleven minutes, but ten. We know this valuable fact thanks to new research into cognitive functioning. Simply put, the brain gets bored. According to molecular biologist John Medina, “The brain seems to be making choices according to some stubborn timing pattern, undoubtedly influenced by both culture and gene.”1 Medina says peer-reviewed studies confirm the ten-minute rule, as do his own observations. In every college course Medina teaches, he asks the same question: “Given a class of medium interest, not too boring and not too exciting, when do you start glancing at the clock, wondering when the class will be over?” The answer is always exactly the same—ten ...

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