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Be Brief When Giving a Speech

by Ron Kurtus (updated 24 November 2022)

Although some speakers feel that they have a great deal of information to provide, speaking too long can cause the the audience to tune out the speaker. In fact, often the speakers are primarily thinking of themselves and not the audience.

You need to be aware of your goal in speaking, the time limitations, and how to effectively please the audience.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Goal is to communicate information

Your goal as a speaker may be to communicate information to the audience, to inspire or persuade them, or to entertain the audience. Although you may have a lot of information or many funny stories to tell, you must be aware that the audience can only digest a small amount of information at a time. This is especially true in these days of short attention spans.

You need to be aware of the audience and seek to effectively communicate to them, such that they will not lose interest.

Consider your allotted time

Public speakers are usually given an allotted time for their speech. Some professional speakers are given up to 90 minutes to present their material. However, they need to be able to keep the attention of the audience. The usual length of an address is 20 minutes.

Non-professional speakers should keep their talks less than 15 minutes. In Toastmasters Clubs, the typical time allotted for a speech is between three and five minutes.

You need to be aware of how much time you are given and then follow that restriction.

You should practice your speech and time how long it takes before presenting it to an audience. If it seems too long, you can then trim some of the material out of the speech.

Less is more

If is good to realize that "less is more" when giving a speech. One good way to do that is to divided your speech into three to five points or sections. This can help to prevent information overload.

Above all, do not consider speaking as an opportunity to show how much you know. Instead, think of the audience and give them just enough that they want you to speak again to tell them more.


You need to be aware of your goal in speaking, the time limitations, and how to effectively please the audience. Brief speeches are more effective than long speeches to achieve your goals.

Condense your thoughts

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