Have you ever sat through a presentation bored out of your mind? On the other hand, have there been speeches when you’ve been on the edge of your seat, lapping up every word that was said?
The main factor between these two events was added value. What did you learn that you didn’t know before? What information could you take home knowing it would make your life better?
Another factor was probably due to the length of the speech, the amount and kind of words used, how they were delivered, and what impact they had on the listeners.
Talking in public can be difficult to make it sound interesting. There are many people who love the sound of their voice, droning on with unappetising words in a soporific monotone, either vacuously going over the same point again and again, or mindlessly talking about nothing.
In fact it is quite an art to fill up time with nothing, to not answer the question properly, to avoid the point in question, skirting around the edges with rhetoric and filling the space with jargon.
But don’t we prefer a fact-filled feature, busting at the seams with information, explaining concepts so that we ‘get it’ in different ways? Lectures need to be condensed into a more coherent format: a beginning, middle and an end, an introduction leading to factual innards followed by a suitable summary.
Sometimes a short sharp statement can say it all, a focused comment that pierces through the fluff, a forthright remark that forces immediate recognition of the point at hand. This requires not only intelligence of the deliverer, but also of the recipient to provide appropriate acknowledgement and appreciation of the value that has just been given.
Reading this post over I am aware that it is a bit wordy, and I could have made my point in just three short paragraphs. That is what Seth Godin does in his blog, which certainly has contributed to his fame and success. You need to be very brave to say what you need to in such a small space, to condense your message with fewer well chosen words. Twitter certainly has contributed towards this phenomenon, with the brightest taking full advantage.
My mother was recently invited onto a question time panel in which her comments were considerably shorter than anyone else’s, so much so that everybody had to listen carefully so not to miss them, in order to immediately glean the message she was delivering. It was a pity that the remainder of the panel could not match her style, as they could have answered far more questions within its constraints. The need to clarify a point already made, or to confuse the issue while straying from the subject, appeared only to appease the self-importance of the speaker combined with the assumption that more needed to be said. If you have the time or the inclination, watch this video to see what I mean.