We often mistake talking for a long time with being persuasive, but if you’re in a debate or other situation where you need to persuade others of your point of view, conciseness is often a more worthy aim.
Picture by nznationalparty
Last week, the UK had its first ever televised debate between its major party leaders ahead of its elections (yes, that’s old and familiar territory for Australians). As part of the run-up, the BBC ran an interesting look at how to get your argument across in a debate. The article covers lots of familiar points — know your subjects, sound confident, demonstrate that you’ve considered alternatives before rejecting them — but also notes that not going on for too long is equally important:
Another important consideration, often overlooked, is how long to take to make a point. Maintaining the audience’s attention can be tricky and Mr Vit suggests observing the length of TV ads, or the duration of a scene in soap opera, as useful guides in judging attention span.
In other words: if you can’t nail it in 30 seconds, you probably can’t nail it at all. It’s a useful rule for public speaking, but one you can also adapt to written communication. For even more polished appearances, treat your presentation like a performance.