Cutting to the Chase in Public Speaking

Cut to the chase basically means to get to the point excluding needless prelude. This phrase is thought to have originated from silent movies of the yesteryear. Silent movies, as the name implies, did not have any sound or verbal conversation. The acting was made with facial expressions and gestures. Frequently, these movies told of romantic stories that would ultimately culminate into a chasing scene. Therefore, movie makers sometimes had to cut the film short and quickly get to the “chase” in order not to lose the viewers’ interest.

Let’s now cut to the chase and talk about the importance of cutting to the chase in public speaking. What an ironical statement 🙂

The Importance of Getting To the Point

Under ideal conditions, an individual will give attention to your speech for as many minutes as their age. For example, a two-year-old child will pay attention for two minutes, a five year old will pay attention for five minutes, a fifteen-year-old child will listen for 15 minutes and so on up to the age of 20. After that, it tapers off. Therefore, it is crucial to omit the preambles, get to point as swift as possible and keep reinforcing your point frequently.

Winston Churchill, the former British Prime Minister said “If you have an important point to make, do not try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time – a tremendous whack.” He truly understood the importance of cutting through the chase and reinforcing one’s point regularly.

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Get Straight To the Point, Keep It Short and Concise

When you are writing your speech, it is significant to always remember what message you want to deliver in your speech at all times. This will ensure that the process of crafting of your presentation will be aligned to the direction of your message. To better comprehend the direction your speech, you need to understand the purpose of your speech. It falls under 2 broad categories:

    General purpose
    Specific purpose

Once you determine the categorization, you can then dwell deeper into the real purpose and intentions of the speech. Your general purpose could be to either inspire, persuade, entertain or explain. Usually, all speeches will fall into one of these four categories.

General Purpose
Inspirational speech
Persuasive speech
Entertaining speech
Explanatory speech

The specific purpose of a speech is the idea or elucidation that gives your presentation direction beyond the general purpose. The specific purpose will answer one of the following questions, conditional on your general purpose:

  • Why are you inspiring the gathering of people?
  • What are you trying to persuade the audience to do?
  • How are you entertaining your listeners?
  • What are you explaining to your listeners?
  • Specific Purpose
    Specifically worded and crafted from the audience’s viewpoint

    By the time you finish your speech, the audience should ideally be able to speak in one clear sentence on what your purpose of the speech is. The audience should generally have a comprehensible consensus on your purpose and goal as well, but slight variations and interpretations among the audience is acceptable. If you have been to a boring workshop with your fellow audience murmuring to you “what was that about?” or “what was her point?” or “he was all over the place”, you had most probably tasted a speech that had no general and / or specific purpose. Test your speech on your family or friends first, and ask them for their opinions, if the message is clear or does it need more focus.

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    It is speech contest time among Toastmasters throughout the world now. Many aspiring contestants would be researching Youtube for winning speeches to emulate during their respective contests. While I’m not discouraging you from doing market research on Youtube (I personally don’t do it myself), I would suggest that you first look at your specific purpose carefully. If you get this aspect right, it would be easier for everything else to fall in place naturally.

    I wish you well.

    This article was written by a 3 time Toastmasters District Champion 🙂

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