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Produce Powerful Presentations (Collection) by Jerry Weissman

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69. Tell Me the Time, Not How to Build a Clock: Keep Your Answers Short

“Brevity is the soul of wit,” said Polonius, the sage royal advisor in Hamlet, in response to the king’s request for his opinion. William Shakespeare had his seventeenth-century character use wit to mean intelligence instead of its current usage to mean clever humor. But just as the definition of wit has shifted over time, so has the definition of brevity. Far too many presentations—and even more conversations—go on and on and on, warranting the impatient accusation, “Tell me the time, not how to build a clock!”

We have become accustomed to politicians who go into windbag mode at the drop of a hat. The most egregious example is in televised congressional hearings, where even ...

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