Aspiring writers are often told to “kill your darlings.”
In other words, you have to cut out the passages you’re most attached to when they get in the way of your goal.
The same advice applies when you write a speech or prepare a presentation.
To keep your speeches short and to the point, you have to eliminate – ruthlessly – anything that doesn’t clarify your point and drive it home.
Sometimes the hardest thing to cut from a speech – the darling you have to kill – is a story.
Stories are the most effective tool in a speaker’s toolbox. And I can’t imagine giving a speech without telling at least one story.
But there are times when the story I’m fondest of, the story I’ve built my speech around, is the very thing that I have to eliminate.
When a story dominates your speech either in length of time or in emotional impact, kill it.
When a story distorts the point you want to make, kill it.
When a story creates an image in people’s minds at odds with everything else you’re saying, kill it.
Tell stories to give your speech power, to engage your audience’s imaginations and emotions, to make it memorable.
But if the story you want to tell gets in the way, kill it.