When it comes to public speaking tips, not many people can give better advice than can Dan Pink, best-selling author, TV show host and Ted Talk speaker with 11 million views. 

I recently read about his interview where he shared tips on how to captivate the audience when presenting. One of which was this: 

“Saying something important is better than saying important things.”

I couldn’t rephrase it any better. 

In fact, there’s a true story of mine that demonstrates the truism of this statement: 

Not long ago, I got to give a presentation about a 300-page book that I read. The book left me with so many thought-provoking ideas that I had a hard time leaving anything out. So I ended up taking notes on 4 full pages and read it in front of the class. 

The outcome: 

After 40 minutes of whole-heartedly reading, my teacher tearfully begged me to speed up because he had another class to attend. But I didn’t finish after 15 minutes more. 

When I finally looked up, I saw that half of the class seats were empty. The few who were kind enough to stay either stuck their eyes to the phone or are deep in peaceful slumber. I wondered if my presentation had left them any food for thought at all. 

It was an embarrassing day for me, but I got to learn an important lesson:

The audience doesn’t care about half of what you say, they just need one big idea from your talk to ponder upon. 

Many public speakers want to impress the audience with everything they know about the topic. 

The truth is most listeners can only retain 10% of what you say, so loading them with all the information is a waste of time. 

Instead, make your presentation central-focus on one key idea. Use relevant examples, stories, and fascinating facts to support that idea while leaving out all the unnecessary details. It’s better to have one thing your audience can get away with than boring them to tears with your sermon.

Plus, staying with one main point has another advantage. It keeps your presentation short. 

Believe it or not, in this distracting age of information, the human’s attention span has shrunk to the size of a goldfish, maybe a bit better at 7 minutes according to some research. So by downsizing your presentation, you stand a better chance of keeping them in tune with what you say. 

Talking about attention span, I hope my post still keeps you interested…

If you have any public speaking experience, advice, tips, don’t hesitate to share it in the comment section below. I would very much like to hear about it.

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