How to determine what information is most important

Question submitted from one of our members:

I have 45 minutes to give a presentation that has two days worth of information. How do I determine what to put in and what to leave out?

Sheri’s Response: Editing is very challenging when you are personally involved. Ask yourself these key questions to determine what to edit:

  1. What is the purpose of the presentation from the perspective of the listener?
  2. What do they need to know for the future?
  3. How can my information help them do their job more effectively?
  4. How can this information help meet their goals?

These questions will help determine the importance of your information from the listener’s perspective. It is not always necessary to give all the background of a situation; most audiences will want to know only the perceived benefit or take-away value of the information.

Take a section of your text and ask the above questions. If the answers are not easily determined, you should consider deleting that information.

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