Presenting ideas is as much about what you leave out as what you put in. There is never “not enough time” to get your message across, only “too many words”. But omission can be more than just rigorous editing. It can mean leaving a gap which your audience rushes to fill in for themselves.
Ernest Hemmingway won a bet that he couldn’t write a tragic story in just six words with this: For sale, baby shoes, never worn. We fill in the gaps around the words by imagining the heartbroken parents of a dead baby selling off the shoes he or she never wore.
You need: 20 – 30 minutes, pen and paper. Write a first draft of your presentation, then ask:
- What could I leave out?
- How could I hint at what’s been left out?
- What gaps would people try to fill for themselves?
- How can I make them ask “What happens next?” or “How did we get here?”
- How would I leave them wanting more?
And for a test worthy of Hemmingway – how could you write your presentation in just six words?