Make It Better, Make It Shorter

May 15, 2009 | | Comments Off on Make It Better, Make It Shorter

Which speech do you remember: Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, clocking in at just over two minutes and 268 words or Edward Everett’s two-hour 13,607 word odyssey that preceded it?

If you’re asking, “Who is Edward Everett?” then you have obviously answered the question.

We have a tendency to think that a long speech is a good speech, yet anytime we have to actually sit through a long speech, we suffer from the boredom and the agony of feeling forced to sit through an extended speech that says much without saying anything at all.

We’ve got do something about that.

Everyone’s Got Something to Add… Unfortunately

I was in a working meeting wherein a colleague asked for feedback on an upcoming presentation she was to give. She spoke for about 20 minutes, then asked us to provide feedback on how to improve the presentation. Everyone had something to say, but it mostly revolved around making it longer. They suggested adding more technical language, explaining in greater detail broader concepts, more slides with more data, and on and on.

We’ve got to do something about that.

The Simple Solution – What You Can Do

You want to make it better? Make it shorter.

If you have twenty slides, make it nineteen. If you have nineteen slides, cut it to eighteen.

If you have 13,000 words, cut to 10,000. If you can, cut down to 500. Your audience will be grateful. No one appreciates a speech or presentation that is long for the sake of being long.

Take a topic, determine what needs to be said to get the job done effectively, and be done with it. Of course, don’t cut out the meaning or the understanding. However, there’s no need to add words for its own sake.

What more needs to be said?

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