Use the 50% Rule

13.10.2016 |

Episode #7 of the course Present like a pro! by Angela Lussier


Do you remember the Micro Machine commercials in the 1980s? If not, they featured a voiceover by a man who could speak so fast you could barely understand what he was saying. It was catchy, though, and kids (like me at the time) really liked it. The problem with this approach is that your audience misses at least 50% of what you say. We just can’t process information that fast, and therefore, we end up confused, falling behind, and lost. To avoid blank stares and an audience full of people scratching their heads, try the 50% Rule.

The 50% Rule is when you build your talk with everything you want to convey, and then you chop it in half, removing the 50% that isn’t as important. This way, you avoid the temptation to include everything by speaking as fast as humanly possible. Instead, you take your time to explain each point. Many people can’t digest more than 3-4 main points in an hour anyway, so rather than trying to cram as much as possible in a short amount of time, make less content more meaningful by focusing on each point and giving it the time it needs to sink in. The best way to do this is by following these three steps.


1. Share the tip

Tell the audience exactly what they need to know. For example, “You need to send out one email newsletter to your customers each week.” This is clear advice that tells your audience what to do.


2. Share a story

Illustrate that tip by telling us how and why it works. For example, “In 2013, I sent out two emails per month to my newsletter subscribers and noticed that 15% of them paid for products from me. When I upped my frequency to once per week, orders shot up to 25%. I wouldn’t recommend emailing them more frequently than once a week, as research shows us that people are more apt to unsubscribe and ignore your messages.”


3. Share an example that relates to the audience

Think about what might be important to them. If you are talking to a group of pet store owners, you might say, “Send out an email every week with one of the following: a pet grooming tip, a feeding tip, an obedience tip, or a video of you walking through the store showing your readers what’s on sale that week. Every 8-10 emails, slip in a special offer or a coupon. This will keep your readers coming back because your newsletters are valuable to them.”

If you repeat this three-step process a few times, you will have more than enough helpful content to fill up 60 minutes. The goal is not to bombard your audience with information, it is to guide them to take action with simple steps they can do right away. Avoid losing your audience and wasting everyone’s time by keeping things simple and taking the time to explain everything you are teaching.

Next time, we’ll go over how to be funny in your presentation, even if you think you’re not a humorous person. Jokes go a long way, and everyone can include them if you know how.


Recommended book by Highbrow

“The Power Presenter: Technique, Style, and Strategy from America’s Top Speaking Coach” by Jerry Weissman


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