Don’t use the tell them three times mantra

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Three Things to Say
I like Three Things to Say.

When I started making my first presentations I was often told that I should ‘Tell them what I was going to tell them. Tell them it. Then tell them what I have told them.’ No doubt there are times when this mantra will work but I find that they are few and far between. Let me tell you why.

  • Giving away your punch lines too early in a stale format will not draw people in. It would be difficult to provide the ‘So what’ in the introduction as you have not set the context and unfolded the storyline
  • Whilst repetition is sometimes very helpful, the third time you hear something can be very off putting and the audience may get the feeling that you thInk they are dumb. Indeed as you start to sum up saying the same things again you will see people shuffling papers and thinking about what is coming next. With a more informal presentation you may well get interrupted with a call that you have already said that.
  • Given the limited time that you will probably have to present you will be better to ask for questions or go into a little more detail in one are or other.

I like Three Things to Say.

Presenting at the right pace

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Creating a presentation
Three Things to Say
I like Three Things to Say.

You will no doubt have a natural pace for talking. However, when presenting it is often difficult to control the pace as you either speak fast to get things in and get the presentation rolling or you speak slowly as you try to remember what you wanted to say perhaps stumbling over the first few words of each sentence.

If you tend to speak to fast when presenting there are a few things to do that will help your audience. First, try to remember that it is a weakness. Before you start if you have chance try speaking very slowly to your self either out loud if possible or just in your mind. Second look for places to pause, suggest that people take a look at a slide or a moment to think. Ask a question and wait for the answer even if not said out lowed. “Have you ever wondered why the first industrial revolution started in the UK? (Pause) Well let me give you some of my views……” Third, look to repeat some phrases or words to slow things down and more importantly provide emphasis of key points within your presentation. Fourth, if all else fails and you know that you will just talk too fast then tell your audience (and yourself) at the start of your slot. “Ladies and Gentlemen first let me apologise as I may talk a little fast for some of you – my enthusiasm and love of this subject means that there is so much that I want to say!…”

Should you speak to slow then once again there are a few things that you can try, First, make sure that you have said out loud any words that you may find difficult to pronounce and give yourself confidence. Second, try not to use a complicated sentence structure that may cause you to stop as you lose the flow and place the emphasis in the wrong place. Third try not to be tempted to ad lib but keep to the script and focus on the narrative. Adding  new thoughts in as you talk is likely to slow you down even further. Fourth, try and keep the times when you are not  talking as short as possible. For example, when you take to the stage and start your presentation, turning the pages, etc.

Probably the worst example of speaking slowly that I have witnessed happened at an energy conference back in the 1990s. The speaker representing a manufacturer of a some key industry components went to the stage. No one was expecting a great presentation but we also sat waiting to hear a few things that we may not have known. After what seemed like an eternity the speaker said. ‘When I planned my presentation (pause) I was told that it should be thirty minutes long. (Pause) But I have now been told that it should be forty minutes. (Pause). As I do not have any additional slides or (pause) materials I have (pause) no alternative but (pause) to speak very, very slowly (pause) so I do not finish (pause) too early” The audience laughed and then realised as he proceeded at a snail’s pace and pausing between most words that he was serious! He kept his word and checking his watch at various times he managed to drag out his presentation to the full forty minutes.


I like Three Things to Say.

Your presentation introduction is important

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Creating a presentation
Three Things to Say
I like Three Things to Say.

The introduction can be so important as it sets the tone of the whole presentation. Watching and listening to other speakers will help you identify the openers that work in any given presentation environment. It is of course not possible to provide one that works for all but here are a few suggestions for the clauses that you might use

“Good morning, my name is Richard Jemmett.  My contention is that government support for industries in the UK is counter productive….” (The audience will know that you are stating opinions and thoughts not just data and information)

“Place yourself in a small room in Baker Street in 1923, a letter pops through the door, you open it, you read it…….” (The audience will be taken away from the room in which you are presenting into an imaginary room and hopefully be engaged in the story and subject)

“Today I want to present to you for consideration three ideas. First, educational levels in the UK……” (The audience will count with you and know that the presentation is simple and manageable)

“I have five slides, four questions and three answers…” The audience will know that you want to get to the point – and some may notice that you have more questions than answers.


I like Three Things to Say.