Less is More

The golden rule to improve your public speaking game

How to use fewer words and have a bigger impact on your audience at the same time?Once we get an opportunity to give a presentation, or a pitch, and to stand in front of an audience, we get excited; excited, and maybe also fearful or doubtful. Our two biggest concerns are not to make mistakes and to add value to the audience. Let's look at the second concern. We want to make the audience appreciate listening to our talk and to make sure that they are taking some key pieces of information home.

What is the problem?

Unfortunately, there is a natural tendency to pack too much content in too little time because we really want to make sure we have added value! Instead of focusing on the key message, the speaker sometimes gets carried away and literally tries to change the entire world with one speech. Does that work? Absolutely not! So what should we do? The answer is simple - the opposite!

Before you even write your outline of the script, ask yourself, what is the main message you want to relay with this speech? Let me repeat that: What is the one main message you want everybody to remember? Once you have that, you can get to the key points in the body of the speech. There shouldn't be more than 3 - 5 of them. Remember, less is more. And, don't forget to link the opening and the closing parts of your speech to the powerful key message. Once this is done, it is time to write down your script and edit it.

LESS IS MORE...

While editing, you have to be brutally honest with yourself in order to determine whether a word, sentence, or even a whole paragraph is necessary for the audience to understand, or to remember the Key message. If it isn't, you can:

Instead, go back to your outline, review it, and focus on the essentials. The best advice anyone can give is the wisdom of professional movie producers, editors, and writers, who live and breathe the following rule: Kill your darlings.

Jerry Seinfeld is a great comedian and a great communicator and he gave a great lecture on communication when he said, "I will spend an hour taking an eight-word sentence and editing it down to five." This applies to comedy equally, but it also applies to any other speaking opportunity.

LESS IS MORE...

...and, in order to get around your second concern of adding value to your speech, you have to edit your script once, twice, three times - as often as it takes to find the few right words that have more impact than many semi-relevant sentences.