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Keeping It Short Takes Longer

Did you know it can take much longer to prepare a short presentation–I’m talking about something really tiny–than, say, a 30 or 40 minute or even 1 hour version? Well it’s true and I recently faced this challenge, not once, but twice! (Watch my video here.)

One speech was 10 minutes long and the other was 3. The 10-minute speech was on a topic I’m passionate about, VideoCharisma, and on which I can speak for days. The audience was to consist of professionals in my target market. So it was very important to me to be able to get up there and deliver information that they would find useful, but would also persuade them to approach me for further information. In addition, the organizers were of sufficient stature that it was very important for me to perform well in front of them, too.

The pressure was on.

The second speech was before a government audience. This was lower stakes, of course, but my experience speaking in such an environment told me that I might be thrown a curve and asked to keep my remarks to 2 minutes or even 1 to give everyone their turn at the podium. So I had to know where I might have to cut.

Here’s what I did:

  • Started preparing early. I started the 10-minute talk 3 weeks in advance and the 3-minute, one week in advance.
  • Decided where I could cut. Often, speakers are asked to keep it shorter. The pros know in advance where those cuts will be and how long each version will take.
  • Timed myself. I always do this because otherwise I always run over. So do all of my clients. Take our your stopwatch or other device and use it.
  • Practiced. A lot. This is my clients’ biggest obstacle. If you don’t say it aloud, however, many times, you will fail.

(By the way, figuring out where to cut is a universal challenge that all speakers face and accounts in large part for the extra prep time.)

Mark Twain said, “It takes me 3 weeks to prepare a 30-second impromptu presentation.”

Also, no one ever complains that a presentation is too short.

Copyright 2011 Ruth Sherman. All Rights Reserved.

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