Obviously, there’s a huge danger to the “kitchen sink” approach. Audiences these days are suffering from information overload, attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, and TED Talks have only raised people’s expectations for brevity.
Here are a few tips for separating the wheat from the chaff, along with a short video embedded below.
The Secret to Focusing Your Presentation
You can take a lot of pressure off yourself with the simple understanding that not everything is riding on this one specific talk. There are lots of ways to get your point across. You can:
- Send an email in advance.
- Distribute a handout or leave-behind.
- Link to a video, white paper or microsite.
- Follow up by email.
You could even break up your content into more than one presentation.
Decide on a Goal
So, what is it you want to accomplish with this presentation? What’s the one most essential lesson or learning or action step you want the audience to walk away with?
Direct all your content toward that goal and cut anything that doesn’t support it — the incidental anecdotes, the tangents, the extra bits of proof. Just keep asking yourself, “Does this point help move the story forward or is it just ‘interesting for the sake of interesting?'”
Ask, Why Here, Why Now?
Think about why you are here in this room with this audience. What do you have to accomplish right now? And what does the presentation format offer that all those other forms of communication — emails, white papers, video — don’t?
In a presentation you can read your audience’s reactions, get their feedback and adjust accordingly. You can answer questions and provide more clarity instantly. And you can instill your ideas with the kind of passion and enthusiasm that really sells.
So focus on those aspects that make a presentation special. It is, after all, not a memo.
Watch the Video
For additional perspective, check out this short (1:30) video from a recent talk I did:
For More on How to Focus Your Presentation
If you need more help tightening things up, here are my 7 tips for cutting the fat from any speech.