My Biggest Mistake and the Two Tools That Fixed It

I’ve always prided myself in being a content-rich speaker so imagine my surprise when I had the following conversation after a speech. A couple ladies cornered me and said, “You had a lot of content in your speech.” I said, “Thank you.” Then they said, “We mean you had too much content.” At first I thought, “Too much content? I’ve spent all this time striving to be a content-rich speaker and now they’re telling me I have too much content?” Guess what? They were right.

The problem with having too much content is just what one of the ladies told me. She said, “As soon as I’d begin writing something down, you’d say something else worth remembering and I wouldn’t catch it. Because you shared so many points, I’m afraid I won’t recall any of them.”

Here’s the problem many speakers will face if they are not careful

When we start to know more and more about our topic, inevitably that “more” ends up finding its way into our speech. What’s important to realize about speaking is that oftentimes less is more. Just because you know more doesn’t mean you have to show more within that speech.

Here are two great solutions to keep your audience from feeling lost or overwhelmed

  1. Tighten up your structure by calling back to each major point before you move onto the next point. For example, if my point is on Facing Reality, once I make the point I can transition by saying, “So you face reality with whatever measurement scale you use because, remember, you master what you measure. Once you face reality, the next step is to…” Then, every time I finish my other points, I make sure to call back to every single one of the points I already covered. For my four Rs, I’ll call back to Facing reality, Relinquishing what’s in the way, Relying on the people and processes, and Reforming to a better way. Regularly calling back like this makes your message very clear and keeps your audience members from getting lost.
  2. Use my 10 to 1 Rule of Thumb. Part of my mistake was that I tried to fit too many points into too little time. Now I use my 10 to 1 Rule of Thumb. For every 10 minutes I speak, I feel I can make an average of one point that I can illustrate effectively and make palatable for my audience. Therefore, if I’m asked to speak for 45 minutes, I’ll do my 4 Rs to Remarkable Results speech. If I’m asked to speak for 30 minutes, I’ll do my 3 Rs to Remarkable Results. The key is to heed the old speaker proverb that, “When you squeeze your information in, you squeeze your audience out.” By using a similar formula to my 10 to 1, you’ll move towards much greater clarity and your message will be easily digested.

So What Can We Learn  from This?

Being content-rich should not include filling your audience up with content until they overflow. Instead, it should be about giving them a few solid, memorable, and actionable ideas that they can use to improve their situation. Indeed less is more. I’ll leave it at that.

Craig Valentine

As a motivational speaker I've been fortunate to have spoken in over 20 countries, and back in 1999 Toastmasters International awarded me the World Champion of Public Speaking.

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