William Shakespeare wrote quickly, and he wrote to make money. He had to—his job was to create something that was appealing to an audience. He knew that he needed to write plays that made different kinds of people happy, from the illiterate groundlings to the Queen of England.
Here’s how he did it:
He included something for everyone. Even in the heaviest dramas, he incorporates comedy. In the comedies, there is moving and poignant drama. When you create your presentation, intentionally include elements that are relevant to different people. Some need data, others stories, still others will follow your work better with clear visuals. All will benefit from having your message reinforced in different ways.
He varied the style in which he wrote. You don’t need to bring out the iambic pentameter, or contrast poetry and prose, but it’s good to change things up. If you know you have a more formal style, look for places to loosen up. On the other hand, if you are a casual, relaxed speaker, experiment with areas of your talk where it’s appropriate to be more solemn or formal.
He repeated everything. Shakespeare knew that people would talk, sneeze, cough, and laugh over the most important plot points of his plays. He didn’t want anyone to miss what was going on, so he built repetition into the dialogue. We learn about the feud between the Montagues and the Capulets in Romeo and Juliet several times before we ever meet either of the title characters. When we write our talks, we sacrifice clarity and repetition for cramming more and more information in. The audience can’t remember that much—make sure you support, build, and repeat your main point.
Experiment with these three tips. I can’t promise your next PowerPoint will still be in print four hundred years from now, but you’ll definitely do a good job of reaching the people in your audience!