Marcus Tullius Cicero

Keep Your Presentation Short – Your Audience will Thank You

Marcus Tullius Cicero is often quoted as having said: “Brevity is a great charm of eloquence.”

The Roman statesman, lawyer, and scholar knew what he was talking about. Widely regarded as a great orator, he realized that long, rambling speeches will extend beyond the attention span of his listeners.

More than 2000 years have passed since then and attention spans have become shorter than ever. We are bombarded with so many diverse messages coming at us from different directions, it is difficult to stay focused. We have become impatient and want information now. Get to the point…and do it 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 to support 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 focused fashion, your presentations will become more memorable and more effective. I promise!

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