How difficult do you find it to express your message in around a minute?

Most of us tend to waffle on if given half the chance. Partly this is because brevity takes a lot of work and thought; partly it’s because communicating in short bursts is an artificial, formalised mode of communication. It’s also, however, a highly effective way of getting your message across!

Audiences have short attention spans: they will remember best what you say most succinctly. So how do you make sure you’re being strict with yourself?

First and foremost, do that work and thinking – it’s worth it. Write out what you want to say and then edit it down, really honing your message. Be brutal with yourself – say only what you need to and question the necessity of every single word.

This clarity has another benefit, too. When you are really clear on what you want to say on stage or on camera, it is much more difficult for Presenteritis to cause mischief.

Presenteritis is the nasty little bug who features in my current video. He preys on speakers, exploiting any weakness to infect them with a set of symptoms which can really undermine their presentation.

Not coincidentally, my video is also pretty short, coming in at around a minute. I spent a lot of time brainstorming ideas and then pruning them all back again. I wrote a script and then chopped it up; I hacked it back to the bare essentials. All that work has made the message clearer.

Speaking with brevity can be as tricky as concise speechwriting. When you have a time limit, there’s always a temptation to rush. But barrelling through is no good,– you need to speak clearly and at a comprehensible pace. The good news, of course, is that the tighter your script the less need there will be to gabble through it.

I’m really hoping that this video helps some speakers identify and then overcome their Presenteritis. I also hope that all my thinking about brevity and concision have made it a better piece of public speaking in its own right. Let me know what you think of it – I’d love to know.

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