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Fewer words, greater effect.

I have a business friend, an experienced manager and teacher with a Harvard MBA, whose creativity and intelligence are admired by many. But he dilutes his effectiveness with wordy PowerPoint presentations. It has become a long running joke between us, as I often remind him that most of us have a very limited attention span and ability to recall important points from a presentation.

Note the title and tone of these insights. Short, to the point.

Mark Twain said, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter so I wrote a long one instead.” He cogently encapsulated the problem.

It is more difficult to reduce your thoughts to a few core sentences, but that is what you should do for maximum effect.

  • Rick Munson

    Dave, your vision on goals is awesome, and I thank you for sharing both your wisdom and your knowledge. Being a retired military officer, I can sure relate to what you say. The distinction between your corporate vision, mission, and goals was A+!! This helps us all towards a better understanding on “how it works” to “make it happen” !

    Warm Regards,


  • A number of studies show that after eight minutes the presenter starts losing his/her audience, so the 10/20/30 rule is close enough.

  • Receiving your pearls of wisdom in weekly bites makes it easy to absorb.

    When approached by entrepreneurs I start by telling them for their enterprise to be interesting to me I need to hear three simple things – hopefully reduced to a simple mission statement:
    * who’s the customer
    * what’s the product or service
    * how valuable is that to the customer?

    Interestingly, I’ve found that very few entrepreneurs can deliver a clear answer to those “simple” questions. Thanks for keeping our world developing!

  • Tony Lee


    I absolutely agree.

  • Dave, every lawyer even those who bill by the word, pr person, and marketing person should have this as mandatory reading.
    If I had only a few slides and words to be concise,
    Would I be viewed as incise?
    Or would the thin veil expose
    Knowledge in repose?
    Say too much, put people to sleep,
    Too little, they soon vote with their feet.
    It is not the number of words on a page,
    That makes you more wise, more sage,
    Rather the words like a shining sword,
    That cut through the chaff and harvest the learning on board.
    © Michael p ridley 12/2/09

  • Dan Hoefflin

    Great thoughts Dave. My wife is always saying, “Less is More”. I guess you would agree.

    Your articles are interesting, entertaining, and useful.

    All the best,

  • As always you are spot on with a good sprinkling of humor.

    Our advice to early stage companies trying to get us interested in looking at their company for investment is to send us one slide or sheet of paper with 3 or less colors and a few words and some pictures and even some arrows, which convey all sides of their business.

    One slide as a summary of a complete slide deck is the equivalent of an Executive Summary to a Business Plan.

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