Shortening a Speech
Why Shorten Your Speech?
Most speaking opportunities have time constraints, whether explicit or implicit. If you go far over the time, you risk a negative impact on your grade or evaluation, losing your audience’s attention, and even your own focus. Sometimes running over your speaking time indicates a lack of preparation or a lack of understanding of your material.
How to Shorten
Cutting down the length of your speech can seem daunting, but there are some simple things you can do to help:
- Keep your focus on what you want to accomplish. If you cannot state the main point of your presentation in one sentence, you are probably not focused enough.
- Narrow the points you want to make — ask yourself if each of the points you included really helps your overall focus. If not, cut it.
- Break your speech into sections (e.g., introduction, main point 1, main point 2...). Look for places to tighten each of those sections.
- Ask yourself if each detail or example is necessary. Often, one direct example is more impactful than a long list of tangential examples.
- Practice! While you may not always hit the exact same time with each rehearsal, you should gain a better sense of your time. Plan for certain time points within the practices so that you know that if you haven't gotten to a certain point in the speech by a given time, you are running long.
- Have someone else listen. Another set of ears (whether an OCC tutor or a friend) can provide valuable feedback about times when the focus strays or when examples could be cut.