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Short Speeches illustration: A bar chart shows how the the length of time it takes to prepare a speech decreases as the length of the speech itself increases - to the point where the plucky character charged with delivering a speech of no pre-determined length is happy to wing it.

Short speeches

Supposedly when asked how long it took to prepare his speeches, President Woodrow Wilson said:

“That depends on the length of the speech. If it is a 10-minute speech, it takes me all of two weeks to prepare it. If it is a half hour speech, it takes me a week. If I can talk as long as I want to, it requires no preparation at all. I am ready now.”

It's rather like the saying: "If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter."

It's easy to think that a longer document, report, or talk would be more difficult. So it's a nice thought that it can actually be harder to do something short and well than it is do to something long. It's rather like Edward De Bono's observation that things get more complex before they get simple.

If you want to make something simple, you have to do the work.

QI has good articles on shorter speeches and letters.

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