The 80/20 rule in speech preparation: Rehearse your speech, forget the Powerpoint

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jerry asher
The last thing you need to spend time on in preparing our presentation is Powerpoint, says Jerry Asher

Public speaking consultant Joey Asher hits the nail on the head when he suggests, in preparing for your presentation, you remember the Pareto principle, otherwise known as the 80/20 rule. In this rule, 80 per cent of either the good or bad can be boiled down to 20 per cent of the time, resources and effort. So you can capture the best results in a turnaround or business situation by lopping off bottom 20 per cent and focusing on the top 80.

So what is good and what is bad in preparing for speeches?

First, the thing to cut (or at least de-emphasize):  Your Powerpoint slides. Asher writes

Slides support the presentation. But they’re not the presentation. The presentation is what you say and how you connect with the audience.   Before opening PowerPoint, take out a sheet of paper and make notes.  That’ll determine if you even need slides.

And where should you spend 80 per cent of your time?

Asher says two important activities include asking questions and interviewing representatives of your audience, so you can be sure your presentation matches its interests. As well, it is vital to prepare for the question and answer session after the speech — this is where you can really gain mileage.

These activities are important, but what really matters (and where you should actually spend your time) is rehearsing your speech.

Here’s a question I get a lot. “What’s the easiest way to improve my presentations?”  My answer is one word: “Rehearse.”

I’d trade an hour of rehearsal for an hour of messing with slides any day.

It’s good advice.

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