Robert K. Greenleaf, the founder of the modern Servant Leadership movement, is credited with this often repeated quotation: “Many attempts to communicate are nullified by saying too much.”
If only we all spoke and wrote us succinctly as Mr. Greenleaf did in making that statement. Unfortunately, too many speakers get caught in the trap of thinking that more is better.
The rule when giving a presentation of any kind is that less is more. We might think that were giving an audience more for its time and money by leaving them awash in torrents of information, but that is simply not true. People can only absorb so much information in a single sitting, and the point we are trying to make ends up getting lost when they reach information overload. Good communication requires that people understand and retain what we say. That means that our overriding concern should be that our audience walks away understanding the message we came to deliver, rather than trying to impress them with how much information we have at our disposal.
So the next time we take the stage, let’s make sure we do so with a script that is light on volume and heavy on focused, meaningful content. This less-is-more approach will help ensure that our audience walks away with a message that is memorable, meaningful and repeatable.
When it is time to write a speech, one of the tasks involved that we tend to wring our hands over most is the lead; in other words, how to start our speech. There are many good ways to start a speech, and many of them can be inspired by the spur of the moment, by our pre-speech interactions with arriving audience members. Naturally, though, we want to arrive at our venue with a pre-determined way to kickoff out comments. Here are seven options to consider … (click on the headline to continue reading)
Keep the microphone in front of your mouth when speaking — including while swiveling your head to make eye contact with audience members. This is especially important to remember when using a hand-held microphone. It is common for those using hand-held microphones to hold them in a stationary position while their mouth moves side to side while viewing the full span of their audience. Obviously, this causes … (click on the headline to continue reading)
We hate to write because we were never taught how to write. Instead, we were schooled by teachers who taught us a bunch of grammatical rules and regulations, then punished us for any infractions committed. So we learned from a very early age to write defensively, to avoid mistakes rather than focus on expression and wordplay. We learned to edit WHILE writing, which is akin to simultaneously pressing the accelerator and brake. It gets us nowhere. This sucked all the joy out of writing right from the start. Instead, we should have been graded on our ability to let our imaginations bloom, to write with creativity and character. We should have been taught to write first drafts without regard to typos and grammatical snafus. We should have been told to write quickly and without … (click on the headline to continue reading)
Some of the worse PowerPoint slides any of us have seen are those filled with data — bar charts, pie charts, line graphs, tables and scatter plots that assault audiences with a deluge of numerical and comparative information. In most cases, audiences cannot make heads or tails out of the storm of numbers, trend lines and axes. Presenters tend to forget that all but the very simplest charts and graphs make absolutely no sense to audience members. Data is only as good as it is readable and relevant. In almost every case, data slides give the audience too much information. Instead, a data slide should be interpreted and constructed in a way that … (click on the headline to continue reading)