In physics, power is defined as work divided by time: More work, done in less time, produces more power. In the same way, a speaker’s message is most powerful when it can deliver a lot of good material in a short amount of time.
Make brevity a key foundation in your next speech with these guidelines:
- Shorten stories. Keep stories under two minutes. In preparing a story, continue to ask the question, “How can I say this in less time and in fewer words?” Script out your story and then work to condense it. Include only the information that answers the questions: who, what, when, where and why? If a story doesn’t answer one of these questions, leave it out.
- Less is more. Never use three words when you can say something in two. Leave out clichés and filler words, such as “You know,” “OK” and “All right.” Omit phrases such as “Let me be honest” or “In other words…” The words you choose should be instantly clear to an audience and help them connect to your message.
- Practice makes perfect. Practice your speech so you know how long it is. Never say, “I’m running out of time, so I need to wrap this up.” (You should know how long your speech is because you practiced.) Taken one step further, if you know the time limit on your speech, stop a few minutes short. Audiences will appreciate your respect of their time and will think more highly of you.
- Divide and conquer. Learn to divide parts of your speech into time segments. Let’s use a 20-minute speech as an example. The introduction should not be longer than a couple minutes. That’s ample time to grab the audience’s attention and preview your message. Spend the bulk of your time in the body of the speech, and use the final two minutes to summarize and issue a call-to-action statement.
As we like to say, “Be brief, be brilliant and be gone!” Learn lots more tips for effective presentations in Dardis Communications’ Leadership Presentation & Image Skills program.