Publications & Products
Volume 1, Issue 27

Learn to Say Less during Presentations

If you had 30 seconds instead of 30 minutes to get your message across in a presentation, would you be able to do it?

Ron Ashkenas, author of Simply Effective: How to Cut through Complexity in Your Organization and Get Things Done, recently wrote a blog post for the Harvard Business Review outlining how managers can get better at clearly conveying a message or helping their employees develop this skill. He suggests starting with these steps:

  • When preparing a presentation, work backwards. Start by identifying the key message you want to convey. Then, Ashkenas writes, "Imagine that you had to send that message via Twitter instead of using slides, charts, documents and discussions." By forcing yourself to summarize your key points in 140 characters or fewer, you'll be able to think through what other information you'll need as support.
  • Practice making your presentation without any slides or other supporting materials. Also, limit your time to six minutes. "Think of it as a TED talk that's going to be watched by millions of people on YouTube," Ashkenas writes. If possible, get a colleague to capture your presentation on video. This, he says, will force you to be very clear about what you want to say and how to say it with conviction.
  • Imagine how your audience might react to your condensed message. What questions or concerns might they have? Speculating about this beforehand, Ashkenas writes, will give you confidence to state your position clearly and respond to audience feedback.

This article is from the Jan. 16, 2012 issue.

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