One time a partner at a BigLaw firm where I was in charge of the marketing department said it would be fine for me to talk to the corporate associates about marketing over lunch.  However, he said my talk was to be no longer than 30 minutes.  I’m sure he was concerned about lost billable hours.  Panic?  Yeah!  Normally, my “gee-you-need-to-get-excited-about-and-start-thinking-in-terms-of-
marketing-for-the-benefit-of-your-long-term-survival-etc.” speech takes 1.5 to 2 hours. (Gosh, why do these nightmare memories keep coming back to me when I am no longer in-house?  But I digress.)

So, what did I do?  I cut my speech to 30 minutes. Duh!  Was it as effective?  Heck no, but at least I got to plant the legal marketing seed…..I think.  Tom Antion on his Great Public Speaking  blog has a post about saying it in fewer works I wish I had the benefit of Tom’s advice back then.  He suggests the following to compress your talk without losing impact:

  • Don’t apologize for having less time (apologetic beginnings are always a loser),
  • Begin with an attention getter,
  • Tell them that in the next X minutes, what you will accomplish (and how it will benefit them),
  • Give visual examples of your points, and
  • Divide your speech into three parts – “present a problem, a payoff, and your point of view” (including the No. 1 thing they should take away from your speech).

If you get into the situation where your scheduled speech has been shortened (for whatever reason), have a back up plan that cover the points above.  Your talk may just be more memorable for your saying it in fewer words.