How to write a great speech: BREVITY

Having read my previous articles, you should now have a relevant and original message in mind and are ready to put pen to paper.

Things are looking good, but the pitfalls aren’t all out the way.

Because there is nothing worse than a speaker who takes two minutes to introduce himself and then uses long, winding sentences like this one to make a point that could have been made much more clearly in far less time and using far fewer words.

The secret is brevity.  Not terseness.  Just the use of short, sharp punchy sound bites to make your point in a crisp, memorable way.

There are tricks to achieve this.  For a start, break long sentences up into shorter ones.  Then try and split those up wherever possible.  These breaks should be created at a convenient place to breathe (and pause for effect) when you are speaking.

Like this …

… and this …

… and, most importantly …

… like this.

Secondly, try to avoid convoluted ways of explaining something simple.  For example:

“The problem with playing three centre forwards is that each forward is based in the attacking third of the pitch which can leave a massive gap in midfield to be filled by less players, meaning that the defence gets pulled out of shape.”

Could be changed to:

“Selecting three forwards can leave holes behind them in midfield …

… that defenders are forced to cover.”

Thirdly, read your sentence out loud after you have written them.  You may find that what looks good on the page, doesn’t sound so good when you hear it.

Finally, remember this sad fact (it’s actually an estimate):

A day after you have spoken, few of your audience will remember your key message, fewer still will have remembered your second message, and only a handful will remember more than one example you highlighted.

So see if you can compact a twenty minute speech into fifteen, and don’t worry about being too brief.