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IMGCA Article - The Mental Game of Speaking and Presentations


Top Ten Tips for Writing and Delivering Very Brief Speeches

"Be Good, Be Brief, and Be Seated"

Bill Cole, MS, MA

You've probably heard the well-known old joke about letter writing.

"This is a very long letter because I did not have time to write a short one."

It exactly applies to when you are giving a short talk.

In the speech game, if you don't take the time to craft a tight, focused presentation before you deliver a short talk, you will lose your audience. You may also lose your reputation.

For any length speech you have to craft the talk well, practice it well and deliver it well. This is true for ANY length presentation, but unfortunately, speakers often treat a brief talk as inconsequential. "This is only a five-minute talk, so I'll just wing it. No need to practice such a short speech." they think. This mind set can lead to disaster. Smart speakers know better. They treat ALL talks as important.

Let's take a look at the ten most critical features of crafting and delivering short speeches.

1. The writing for shorter speeches has to be better than for long ones. You have less time to get your critical message across.

2. You must make sure the audience gets the central core theme of your message...and right away.

3. You have no luxury of "warming up" your audience as you sometimes can do in a longer talk or seminar. You must "make the first impression the best".

4. You have no time for wandering around or chaff. Go off on a tangent and in a flash your time will be up and you will be sitting down...with your audience wondering what in the world you just said.

5. If you are disorganized, you will trail past your stop time, and no one likes that. Not the audience, the promoter, or the other speakers to follow you.

6. So you don't anonymously blend in with all the other speakers that will come before and after you, you have to create something different that will help you stand out and be memorable.

7. The logical flow of your talk must be tighter than in a longer talk, or your audience will perceive you simply as a 5 minute blatherer.

8. Your talk must be better memorized, because you'll have no time to develop it as you go, or to use audience interaction or other speech devices to help you remember your material.

9. You have to "play off of" the previous speaker so you get the audience's attention quickly. If your style is the same as what they just heard, they may easily tune you out.

10. You have to "make the ask", just as in any other length speech. Some wise person said, "There is only one purpose in giving a speech, and that is to get the audience to think differently, feel differently or act differently." Know how you want the audience to change as a result of your time on the platform, and you will very likely hit the mark with them.

BONUS TIP: Many speakers want to "tell everything they know" about a subject. In a day long seminar, this may be somewhat possible. Never in a speech of an hour length. In a speech shorter than that, it's a disaster. You will never get going and your audience will wonder what just happened. Instead, keep your message to the point, on target and laser-focused.

For every 15 minutes of platform time, the smart, dedicated speaker has spent an hour in development, rehearsal and preparation. It makes a difference. As a famous violinist said, "When I do not practice for three days, my audience can tell. When I do not practice for two days, my orchestra can tell. When I do not practice for one day, I can tell". So it goes with speech making. You want your audience to applaud you, think well of you and act on your message. Doing all that takes some doing on your part.

To learn more about how presentation coaching can help you become a better, more confident speaker, visit Bill Cole, MS, MA, the Mental Game Coach™ at

Copyright © Bill Cole, MS, MA 2005, 2008 All rights reserved.

This article covers only one small part of the mental game. A complete mental training program includes motivation and goal-setting, pre-event mental preparation, post-event review and analysis, mental strengthening, self-regulation training, breath control training, mental rehearsal, concentration training, pressure-proofing, communication training, confidence-building, breaking through mental barriers, slump prevention, mental toughness training, flow training, relaxation training, psych-out proofing and media training.

For a comprehensive overview of your mental abilities you need an assessment instrument that identifies your complete mental strengths and weaknesses. For a free, easy-to-take 66-item presentation skills assessment tool you can score right on the spot, visit This assessment gives you a quick snapshot of your strengths and weaknesses in your mental game. You can use this as a guide in creating your own mental training program, or as the basis for a program you undertake with Bill Cole, MS, MA to improve your mental game. This assessment would be an excellent first step to help you get the big picture about your mental game of speaking and giving presentations.

Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority on peak performance, mental toughness and coaching, is founder and President of the International Mental Game Coaching Association, Bill is also founder and CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps organizations and professionals achieve more success in business, life and sports. He is a multiple Hall of Fame honoree, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published book author and articles author, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league pro sports, big-time college athletics and corporate America. For a free, extensive article archive, or for questions and comments visit him at

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