Mr. Frost, my superb economics teacher in England, once shared the story of two people talking about a lecture given by the late Milton Friedman, the father of Monetarism. The first said, “Twenty years ago, I went to the worst lecture I’ve ever heard! Friedman gave it and I still remember how he just muttered on and on and all I could make out was the word ‘money.’” The second man responded, “If you can remember what the key message was some twenty years later, I think it might be the best lecture you ever heard!”
Indeed, Friedman’s singular message — that by controlling the supply of money, you can stabilize the whole economy — became, arguably, the most impactful economic theory of the second half of the 20th century. The point I wish to emphasize is not an economic one, but a human one: if you try to say too many things, you don’t say anything at all.
He highlights a few key lessons he’s learned over the years in giving effective presentations:
- You can’t communicate what you haven’t defined i.e. be really clear, starting with yourself, about what you want to say
- Lose the slides and have a conversation – something my friend David Gurteen has been saying for years!
- Kill your darlings i.e. ruthless editing
- Be repetitive without being boring i.e. focus on the one message you want to hammer home
See also, Why Are Most Events Rubbish?
Rereading this latter post, it may be a bit unkind but the underlying point is still a good one and one that everyone still seems to be struggling with.