The Gettysburg Address had 272 words and took less than 2 minutes to deliver. One of the best speeches ever delivered, it was passionate and inspirational. Business people could take a lesson from President Lincoln: shorter is better.

In 1988, then Governor Bill Clinton gave a 30 minute speech at the Democratic National Convention for Michael Dukakis. By the end, the audience erupted in thunderous applause. Many audiences feel the same way: shorter presentations are better.
A common belief is that longer speeches and presentations say two things: (1) more knowledge and (2) more power. Audiences will NEVER wish your speeches were longer. How do you make your speeches short AND memorable?

  • Organize – Like most people, I can ramble on for hours. If I want a 15-minute speech, I need to plan and organize. I need to pick out three main points and only speak on those. Organize for impact.
  • Audience – It always comes back to them. What do they want to hear? Remember: it’s about them, not you. Give them a 10-minute speech (or shorter), and they will remember your point.
  • Practice – King, Jobs and Reagan all practiced their speeches. Practicing helps you focus the presentation. Focus makes your presentation more powerful. Practice your presentations to “trim the fat” and avoid rambling.

Guy Kawaski (Managing Director, Garage Technology Ventures) believes in the 10-20-30 rule. He limits presenters to 10 minutes and 20 slides. Want to have an impact? Lessen what you have to say.

Scientifically Speaking, of course.

Next Week: How To – Social Media Strategy