In 1863, Abraham Lincoln delivered one of history’s most famous and remembered speeches – the Gettysburg Address. It was 273 words. It took 2 minutes to deliver. The main address that day (the one Lincoln followed) was given by Edward Everett (known to be one of the greatest speakers of the time) and lasted 2 hours. His note to Lincoln on the event…“I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.”
If you’re making a presentation, any kind of presentation and your audience is only hearing blah, blah, blah then YOU have a problem.
Are you a Lincoln or an Everett? Let me ask that another way; how long was your last presentation? How could it have been shorter without losing impact? (I’m assuming it had impact.)
Over the next couple weeks invest some time examining the length of your presentations (both formal and informal versions). For every point and every line ask, “Why is this needed for my presentation?” If you’re unsure of the reason, cut it, lean and effective should be your goal.
If you don’t have it written, planned, and practiced, get that done soon. The chances of a rambling presentation skyrocket without a formally developed presentation.
Time is money and effective presenters know it as well as anyone.
That was 238 words, they sure add up fast!
2 thoughts on “Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah”
Thank you, Steve, great example. Keeping it short, to the point and meaningful can be a challenge, especially when you’re emotionally attached to the topic. Mark Twain said, “If you want me to talk for two hours, I can start now. If you want me to speak for five minutes, I am going to need a week …”
Another lesson from the Gettysburg Address comes from what Lincoln said after the speech, “That didn’t scour very well.” It was a plowing analogy, meaning he thought the speech had gone poorly. It’s a reminder that you never fully know how well you have connected with the audience. You may be hearing blah, blah, blah in your own words and still be resonating with a listener.
With that I will use no more words and end this comment. Well, one more thing –
Lead on, Steve! I appreciate your insight & leadership.
Thanks for your comment, you make a great point, our audience is the final judge of our presentation. We need to remember that we are talking with them, not to them.