Most presentations are far too long – Less really is more!

lady looking bored

How many business presentations have you attended in the last 3 months that delivered exactly what you needed to know in a manner that respected your time?

Next time you are invited to listen to a presentation at work take note of the following: 

How much of what was said wasn’t of relevance to you?

How much of what you heard you already knew? 

How much was an unnecessary level of detail 

How much was repeated 

How much of it was self-promotion for the presenter

How much of what you heard added little or no value to you 

Did you feel that the same presentation could have been given in less than half the time?

Cutting a presentation in half often results in greater clarity and the message being delivered with impact in a way that it is more likely to be remembered. 

We need to cut out the superfluous noise 

‘I’m sorry this letter is so long; I didn’t have time to write a short one.’ – Blaise Pascal 

At Mindful Presenter we coach professionals to deliver their entire message in 90 seconds. 

We do that because we believe that it’s crucial for a speaker to connect with their audience and deliver their message with power and impact in moments. If they can do it in 90 seconds then when they have the gift of presenting for much longer they can craft something extraordinary.

In a typical 20 minutes business presentation much of what has been prepared is often ‘babble’ designed to show the audience how hard the presenter has worked, how much they know and to impress. 

The fact is your audience don’t care how hard you have worked, all they want to know is how you can help them. I’m not of course suggesting that if you’re given 20 minutes to speak that you cut it right down to 90 seconds. The challenge is for you to focus on crafting and delivering your message in such a way that that you attain absolute clarity about what it is you wish to say. 

More importantly the discipline will compel you to consider with laser like lucidity exactly what you want your audience to think, feel and do.

Here is how you do it: 

1. Give them a ‘Bond’ opening

Don’t open with a monologue of trivia. In other words don’t start by telling them how excited you are to be there, how big and wonderful your company is and then outlining the world’s longest agenda. Open like a Bond film does where you get the audience to shuffle forward a little into their seat because they have a feeling this is going to be good.

2. ‘Cut to the chase’ 

Don’t wait until slide 12 to tell them why you’ve taken time out of their busy schedule and what difference you can make to the lives. Show them at the start what their world will look like when you’ve finished speaking.

3. We like things in 3’s

Three is by far the most persuasive number when it comes to communicating so take advantage of the fact by giving your audience the 3 things they want most from you. 

– Your message – why you’ve called them together in the first place and what’s so important that you couldn’t just send an email. 

– The impact – why they should listen and care.

– How – What needs to happen next for them to experience and feel the benefit. How exactly do they move forward on your message?

4. Breathe life into your words

It’s not about how long you speak it’s about how well you help your audience listen. The quickest and most effective way to animate your point is to do so with short, relevant and powerful examples or anecdotes. 

Help your audience to see and feel your words as well as hear them. Please remember, I’m not suggesting you convert your 30 minute presentation to a 90 second speech but I am suggesting you can connect with your audience far more quickly and powerfully. 

The checklist to ensure you do so is simple:

Is everything I plan to say, show or do relevant to my audience? 

Have I got something to tell them that they don’t already know? 

Is all this information really necessary in supporting my message?

Have I ‘padded’ it out with too much repetition? 

Is it about them or me? 

Is what I have to say of real value to my audience, will it make a difference? 

I really hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please feel free to share it through your preferred social media channels below and subscribe to our mailing list so you won’t miss any future posts.

If this article has inspired you to learn a little more about how effective your presentation skills are you may want to take a look at our presentation training and presentation coaching pages to see how we may be able to help you. You will also find a great deal of really helpful ‘free’ information in our Learning Centre.

Image: Courtesy of Flickr.com

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