How to cut the waffle

This vlog talks about being clear and concise in your presentations, and how to cut the waffle!

How to cut the waffle!

Here’s the summary if you don’t have the opportunity to watch the video.

Do you waffle?

Have you ever worried that when you stand up and speak in public you waffle? You go round the houses? You end up going down rabbit holes? And repeating yourself and missing out important pieces of information?

This is one of the key concerns that people have when they come and talk to me. And they want to be clear, they want be concise, but they worry that they easily get distracted in and on the moment.

So here are three things that you might want to consider if you’re worried that you waffle.

The analogy of driving a car

I’m going to use the analogy of driving a car. Driving a car without a satnav and driving a car with a satnav.

So, imagine you’re wanting to go to a particular destination and you know where it is, vaguely, you haven’t quite taken that route before, but you’ve got a good idea where you might be going, and you set off in the car without a sat nav.

And you’ll probably get there. But along the way, you might have taken a very inefficient route maybe you’ve gone round a roundabout a couple of times while you worked out which of the main roads you were taking.

Perhaps you got stuck in a traffic jam that you didn’t know was there or a road that was under renovation. And maybe you missed out on a really pretty route that would have really made the journey extra special. So you get there, but it’s been a bit of a circuitous route.

That’s a bit like when we stand up, and we know the destination. We know where we’re going to start and where we’re going to finish. But we haven’t quite worked out what the route is, and that’s where we end up waffling. We end up getting caught up in a particular issue that we’d get stuck on, or maybe we miss out something. Or maybe we fail to add something that really brings our talk alive or our message emphasized and bring home to the audience.

You will miss out on that opportunity because we’re sort of working it out as we go along.

Driving with a satnav

If we’re driving with a satnav though, and we know where we’re going, but we’ve put it in the satnav, then and assuming it’s a good satnav, by the way, then we will know what that route is.

We know that we will get there. And actually, the satnav will avoid the roadworks. It will take us on perhaps a pretty route or the most efficient route and we can be really confident that we’ll get there, and we’ll get there in the best way.

 So when you’re preparing a presentation, know what your destination is. Know what your endpoint is. Know what it is that you want to achieve and work out a route map that will get you there.

Creating milestones

Now that leads me on to my second way of avoiding waffle, which is not just to set the destination and have a route map, but to be quite specific about the milestones on the course of that journey. So not just I want to get to here, but also I want to get to here via this point, this point, and this point.

In other words, breaking your talk down into digestible chunks, setting a destination for each of those chunks.

If we use the satnav analogy again, I might put in my satnav. I’d like to go to Glasgow. But I’d like to go via Preston, Carlisle and a very tiny village just outside Glasgow. And by being very specific about that, I know that my journey will go through those particular places. 

If I didn’t, if I wasn’t as specific about that, the satnav might create a route for me that would get me to Glasgow, but might miss out on some of those places.

So when you’re planning your presentation, as well as that destination, think to yourself, well along the way, what else does my audience need to understand? What would be helpful for them to have a perspective on? Where do we need to visit together? In order to get to that destination. In order to know how to cut the waffle.

Understand the outcome

However, despite all of those, arguably, the biggest way of cutting the waffle is to understand the outcome that you want from your presentation. Now that’s not just the destination. It’s a bit bigger than that.

It’s going, why are you delivering the presentation in the first place? What’s your overall outcome? And, importantly, for your audience, what’s the takeaway that you want them to go away with? What’s the why behind your talk? And what’s the core message that you need the audience to understand in order for you to get the outcome that you want. 

When we have that outcome, it makes sense of the destination. It makes the journey more straightforward. It will actually help you work out what those milestones are in between the start and the end.

So if you want to know how to cut the waffle, know where you’re going, know how you’re going to get there and understand why you’re taking the journey in the first place.

I hope that helps. Let me know and get on.

And of course please get in touch with me if you have any questions. I’d be happy to answer them.