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Make brevity work for you

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in Office Communication,Workplace Communication

People have lots to worry about these days. They’re preoccupied and prone to distraction. That’s why you need to prune your presentations to the bare essentials.

Dumping too much information on an audience rarely works to your advantage. But it’s especially important to make every minute count when you know they’re anxious about pressing matters like the rocky economy. To cut away fluff:

Shed excess examples. You make a main point. Then you illustrate it with an anecdote or example. That’s fine as long as you stop there.

Don’t assume that the more supporting material you provide, the better your listeners will grasp your point. Volunteering example after example or elaborating at will merely tests their patience as they think, “Yeah, I get it already!”

Limit your slides. Once you start planning your slides, it’s easy to get carried away. Apply tech investor Guy Kawasaki’s “10/20/30 Rule” so that your PowerPoint presentation has 10 slides, lasts no more than 20 minutes and contains no font smaller than 30 points.

Map out your talk. Know in advance what you want to cover—and in what order. That prevents you from ad-libbing, babbling or saying something you regret later.

Rehearse in less time. When practicing your presentation, don’t feel obliged to fill whatever time allotment you’ve been given. Instead, aim to wrap up with a few minutes to spare.

Yes, it’s hard to edit an important talk when you’re an expert on the material and you want to share your knowledge. But your brevity can actually arouse more curiosity among your audience and provoke a livelier Q&A.


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