Posted by: George E Burney | April 12, 2012

Public Speaking – Keep It Simple!

The expression “Keep it simple, stupid” (or the Kiss principle) has been around for a while. If we drop the word “stupid,” that’s excellent advice for any aspiring speaker.

When speaking to any audience, a speaker will have one of the following as his primary objective: to instruct or inform, to convince or persuade, to move to action, or to entertain. To accomplish his objective, ideas must be presented so that everyone in the audience, regardless of his background, education, or intelligence, is able to grasp and easily understand them.

To do that, the speaker must banish from his mind any vestige of the desire to impress his audience. That desire will lead him to the use of complicated expressions or explanations in an effort to appear knowledgeable. That’s ironic, since the best evidence of a speaker’s brilliance lies in his ability to simplify complicated or difficult concepts.

This requires expert knowledge on the part of the speaker. To illustrate, an expert watchmaker can take a watch apart and reassemble the parts with no difficulty. Why? Because he thoroughly understands how a watch is made, its various parts and what each part does.

Likewise, a speaker should know any concept he uses in his presentations so well that he can, in effect, take that idea apart and reassemble it. He understands the whys and wherefores. When he can do that, he can also present the idea in its simplest form.

When he does so, he greatly increases the likelihood that his audience will accept and agree with his reasoning. On the other hand, if they don’t understand what he is saying, how can they agree with it?

Therefore, a speaker must aim for simplicity. Ideas presented to an audience must be simple and clear.

Copyright © 2012 by George Burney and betterpublicspeaking


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