Tuesday, September 19, 2006


The older I get, the less tolerant I am of speakers who go on and on and.... Last night I sat through a meeting in which a person talked for at least 45 minutes too long. Mind you, this person was a show of waving arms, dashing about, patting people on heads, clutching others and hollerin' to make us aware of the message.

But the style didn't work for me, and I don't think it worked for other adults in the room. We were there after a day of work, and it was 9:30 pm. I had left the house at 6:15 am and hadn't seen it since. The communications error, it seems to me, was letting enthusiasm for a subject carry one away. At that hour, with glassy-eyed listeners, brevity is best.

On second thought, at any hour, brevity is best. We are no longer in an age when lengthy speeches are part of popular entertainment. In the 19th Century, a politician or preacher was expected to deliver a long and stirring oration to lift media-deprived audiences out of their humdrum existences. What we need today is less presentation and more content. The longer one talks, the less people listen.

It's a sore subject for me. In presentations to clients, I am forever hammering that the formal presentation should not be more than 10 minutes, and it should serve as an introduction to questions and answers. Interaction with the audience sustains interest, not talking at the audience. Even interaction, however, has limits. By time 9:30 pm rolled around, I resented even questions from the audience.

I used to like the sound of my voice too: I hope I've learned something over decades of working as a communicator.


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