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Speech-Time Exclusive -- News, The Pareto Principle (80-20 Rule) for Public Speaking
August 12, 2008

The 80-20 Rule for Public Speaking


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80-20 Public Speaking

The 80-20 rule is one of the most talked-about principles today. Also called Pareto's Principle, it states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. 20% of the people do 80% of the work. (You've probably realized that in your own life when you've had to pick up the slack for someone!)

Pareto's Principle is especially important for public speaking.

Have you ever heard a speech that's all fluff and no content? That's a speech on the wrong side of the 80-20 rule: most of it isn't in the productive 20%.

Here are three ways to use the 80-20 rule to improve your public speaking.

  • After writing a speech, cut out the ineffective 80%. Ok, maybe don't cut 80% of your speech. But figure out what really matters, then trash the rest.
  • Give 80% planned, 20% impromptu. Use the 80-20 rule to avoid being dull and boring. Write out 80% of your speech, but leave 20% of it for some spontaneous off-the-cuff. Stories work especially well for the unplanned 20%.
  • 80-20 audience analysis. 20% of your audience will have an especial need for your speech. Target them.

--- Quote of the Week

"There are always three speeches for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave" (attributed to Dale Carnegie)

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Happy Speaking,


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