Winston Churchill humorously said: “A good speech should be like a woman’s skirt: long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.”
The former prime minister of the United Kingdom knew what he was talking about. Widely regarded as one of the greatest orators of the 20th century, he knew that long, rambling speeches will extend beyond the attention span of his listeners.
Attention spans have become even shorter in recent years. We are bombarded with so many diverse messages coming at us from different directions, it is difficult to stay focused. We have become impatient. We want information now. Get to the point…and get to the point fast.
How to Keep Your Presentation Short
Focus on Key Points
Focus only on the key points you want to make with your talk. To do that, you need to clearly understand your audience: what do they already know and what do they want to learn from you.
Have the Guts to Cut
Ask yourself: “What can I cut from from my presentation?” There may be words, sentences, and segments that do not add any value. Cut them out. If it isn’t absolutely necessary for your audience to understand the key point(s) of your presentation, it simply shouldn’t be said.
Follow the “Rule of Three”
People cannot keep more than three or four pieces of information in their short term memory easily. If you want to cover more key points, find ways to chunk up your information to fit into one of three distinct blocks of info. By doing so, you will end up with a more focused presentation that tends to also become shorter.
I have never met an audience that blamed a speaker for being concise and brief. I have met many audience members, however, who have complained about a speaker stretching their presentation beyond a reasonable length. If you start to deliver your information in a very focused fashion, your presentations will become more memorable and effective. I promise!