Shorten Your Speech in a Pinch? Arg!

Lily IatridisBy Featured Speaker Lily Iatridis

We’ve all been there. You’ve prepared a 45-minute presentation, and you’re ready to go. Then, before you get up to present, there’s a change in schedule, and your host, boss, or whomever suddenly tells you that you only have 20 minutes to deliver your speech!

What do you do?! How do you edit your entire presentation in one minute or less and still make maximum impact?

10 Things to Do if You Have to Shorten Your Speech Drastically on the Spot:

  1. Take a deep breath. Calm yourself. Pretend that your fine with it.
     
  2. Throw out your Powerpoint. As we say in New Jersey, just “fahgeddaboutit!”
     
  3. Make a no-frills opening. Introduce yourself, and make your purpose or thesis statement immediately. Drop any interesting lead-ins.
     
  4. Focus the content on the one or two points that make the crux of your talk. In other words, what main points are vital to making an effective and relevant call to action? Focus on introducing those. Use one example for each to illustrate and better explain each main point. Forget the longer explanations and illustrative details.
     
  5. Include only one really great story.
     
  6. Rely more heavily on vocal variety and body language to engage and grab your audience’s attention.
     
  7. Create a sense of urgency with the tone of your voice. You don’t have a lot of time, but what you have to say is important.
     
  8. Ask the audience to hold questions until the end of the presentation. For a smaller group, take one question only after each main point is communicated, and ask everyone else to hold theirs.
     
  9. Keep your call to action as is.
     
  10. Tell the audience how to get in touch with you for more information on your message.

Good luck and remember, your audience won’t know that you’ve just had to butcher your presentation unless you tell them so. If you keep your mind calm and focused on audience connection, they’ll think you gave a great speech!


Lily Iatridis of Fearless Delivery, has a proven track record and knows the key elements in effective and engaging presentation. Her expertise is in supporting professionals to get their message expressed clearly to deliver the biggest results in their live and online presentations.

If you’ve ever been nervous in front of an audience, please download Lily’s free ebook, “5 Steps to Neutralize Difficult Audience Members- Without A Power Struggle!” In this ebook, Lily shares simple strategies that will put your mind at ease, arm you with useful strategies, and entertain you with some stories of her own bumps along the path to public speaking success.

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