Sometimes a speaker gets caught up in the need to give the audience too much information.

In preparing a presentation, she starts working on her outline, and quickly realizes that there's no way she can share everything she knows on her topic. For that matter, there's no way to share everything she knows in a day or weekend workshop, either. She's an expert and she's spent years developing her knowledge and skills.

She panics and wonders how she can teach her audience anything with such restrictions. She fears that the audience won't learn enough and worse, that she might be damaging her "expert" status if she doesn't demonstrate the full extent of her knowledge.

Instead of looking at this as a sort of prison, where the constraints of time act as her chains, she might instead look at this as an incredible amount of freedom!

When you narrow your focus and provide fewer options to your audience, you can be more clear, more concise, and give each idea more thought and discussion.

Pointer 1: Determine your objective

There's one simple step to ensure that your presentation stays focused and clear. Unfortunately, many speakers neglect this step, which is why their presentations drift, roam and seem to follow no logical path.

What is the purpose of the presentation? Do you want to inform, educate, entertain, enlighten, inspire, motivate, or all of the above? What do you want the audience to do as a result of your talk?

I've noticed that the lack of objective is frequently seen in shorter, 10-15 minute presentations, perhaps because the speaker has chosen the path of information overload rather than cutting out the extraneous and focusing on the critical.

Pointer 2: Start from the clock and work backward

Say you are giving a ten minute presentation. If your opening is 1-2 minutes long and your closing is 1-2 minutes long, that gives you between six and eight minutes for the body of your presentation. Not much, right?

If you have three main points you want to make in that time, each point will be between two and 2 1/2 minutes long, assuming you give them equal time.

When you break it down like this, you can see how critical it is to have an objective before you begin crafting your presentation -- whether it's short or long.

Pointer 3: Determine your main points

Once you have your objective in mind, determine your main points that serve that objective and meet the needs of your audience. You will not be able to cover everything you know, so decide what's important to share right now.

Rather than experiencing a hurricane of ideas (or a typhoon if you're west of the International Date Line), your audience can instead absorb the subject matter in a way that allows for deeper connection with and understanding of your concepts and message.

Choose the ideas that are relevant to your audience right now. Cut, edit, delete, tighten, condense, omit and fine tune. Let go of and save the rest for future presentations, e-books, blog posts, newsletter articles or your upcoming book.

What's new in your industry? What's new in your business? What are the top three things people should know about buying comfortable footwear, riding a mountain bike, getting a good workout, choosing a vacation destination or finding a financial advisor? Pick three and leave the rest for another time.

You're doing the audience a favor by not overwhelming them with information. Get your objective in place and the rest will follow.

Author's Bio: 

Lisa Braithwaite works with individuals to uncover their challenges and build their strengths in presenting themselves confidently as speakers. For free monthly public speaking tips, sign up for the "Presentation Pointers" newsletter. Get my e-book, "101 Tips to Improve Your Public Speaking," here.