How to Shorten a Speech | Public Speaking 101

How to Shorten a Speech | Public Speaking 101



One of the most important positions in Toastmasters is the timer.

This position makes sure that the speaker’s speech is long enough, but not too long.


Rookie speakers hate the timer.

They think:

‘I can give a talk on this subject for 20 minutes. Why is the timer holding me back to 7 minutes?’


Just because you can talk for 20 minutes does not mean that you should.


It shows professionalism when you know when to get off stage.

Plenty of speakers can’t do it.

That’s why they ramble on stage.


They were a hit in the beginning.

But once they stayed on stage for 10 minutes too long, the audience grew distasteful of their message.


Know when to end your talk!!

Shorten a speech and pack a punch.


What is Your Speech Really About?


The first question you should ask is:

  • What is my speech really about?


Many speakers think they know what it’s about, but they don’t.

If you ask them to explain it, they will just begin reciting their speech.


I didn’t ask them to recite their speech.

I asked them what it was about.


To see how well you know what your speech is about, explain its purpose to me in 10 seconds.

’10 seconds? That’s too little, Armani.’

Do it.


In the beginning, you won’t feel like you can.

You will mess up plenty of times.

Initially, you’ll keep going over the 1-minute mark.

Then, you’ll get down to the 30-second mark.

Rep after rep, you’ll soon get closer to the coveted 10-second mark.


When you can explain what your speech is about in 10 seconds, there will be a feeling of relief.

You’ll feel a strong sense of comfort.


Before, you THOUGHT you knew what your speech was about.

Now you know.


Trimming Away


There are 2 types of discipline out there.

The discipline where you force yourself to do stuff.

  • Like going to the gym.


And the other discipline is when you force yourself to eliminate stuff.

  • Like shortening a speech.


When you know what your speech is really about, a lot of points will organically fall off.

You’ll think:

‘Why did I include these lines in the first place?’


After a couple of lines organically fall off, you now need to look at the lines that you want to keep but still have to eliminate.

You’ve been given 7 minutes by the host, but each time you practice your speech, you keep hitting 10 minutes.

3 minutes’ worth of material needs to be discarded.


There are no easy steps for this.

It’s just a game of priorities.


You need to identify which lines are the highest in the priority list and keep those while eliminating the rest.


I get it.

You created these lines out of love.


You think all of these lines are needed for the audience to understand what your speech is really about.

That’s a false assumption that you’re making due to your inexperience.


Speakers have a lot of ego in the beginning.

They think their lines are way more important than they really are.


Even getting rid of half your speech will still allow the audience to understand your message if you knew what your talk was really about.


Prioritize the lines.

Eliminate the lines on the bottom of the totem pole.


It Gets Easier to Shorten your Speech Overtime


I think it’s harder to tell a short story than a long story.

It’s because we are naturally wired to ramble.

We need to train ourselves to get to the point.


Initially, it feels difficult to shorten a speech.

But the more you practice eliminating the lines that you love, the more you build your phantom discipline.


Discipline is not just about what you do, it’s also about what you get yourself not to do.


Eliminating lines is a fantastic way to build your public speaking chops.

I promise you that it’ll get easier over time.


Practice your Shortened Speech & Build a Comfort with It


Once you shorten a speech, keep practicing.

When you practice your new talk, you’ll notice that you were overthinking about cutting the lines.


Smoothen your transitions.

Time yourself.

Make sure you consistently hit the time limit that the host assigned you.


I have a rule with practicing known as the 5x rule.

This is when you go through your speech 5 times to perfection.

Each time you mess up, start back over.


By perfection, I mean that you are satisfied with your delivery.

Once you hit the 5x mark, fall back and relax.


If you have the time, record your talks.

Then watch your talks back.


When you watch your talks back, you’ll get the perspective of an audience member.

When you get the perspective of an audience member, you feel thankful that the speaker is not talking your ear off.


Do Not Overstay Your Welcome


We are living in a time when people cannot concentrate.

They are hopping from thought to thought.


Even though your audience is physically present, does not mean that they are mentally present.

It’d be a shame if you took so much effort to build a speech for it only to fall on deaf ears.


When you get to the point, the audience loves you for it.

There’s an empowering feeling that you feel when you get off stage at your peak.


There’s a disgusted feeling you feel when you overstay your welcome.

You won’t notice that feeling when giving your talk.


But after you get off the stage…

You realize that you turned a 10-minute talk into an 18-minute one.

You notice the host’s disappointed look.


‘I told you 10 minutes max multiple times. I thought you would’ve shown more professionalism. Now we are going to be delayed with serving dinner. Matt still has to go on after you. Everything is off because you don’t understand the interconnectedness of an event!!’


That disappointed look will stick with you.

Shorten your speech.

Get to the point.


For more insights into public speaking, check out the Speaking Wizard eBook

– ArmaniTalks 🎙️🔥


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