Last month I had to go on a serious diet. No, I’m not talking about a food diet. I’m talking about a Word Diet. That’s the first and most important lesson that I learned from Janine Burke. She made me aware of the importance of word counting. I cannot thank her enough for that. According to Janine, we should speak at 100-120 words per minute. Of course, we should allow time for pauses and hilarious laughter.

Dana LaMon always impresses me by showing how he adjusts his speech. When an event runs late, he graciously cuts his keynote speech short on the fly so that the event will be back on schedule. Still, his speech is so good that the audience doesn’t notice any of that. That’s professional. I don’t think that I will ever reach that level, but at least I know how many words I need for a given time depending on the nature of my speech (funny or serious) and size of the audience.

Still…often times, I don’t want to be bothered.
I like this phrase because it’s my favorite. Oh, I need to tell that conversation because it was funny.  I keep every word and add more time to my speech length instead of cutting words. That may be acceptable for some events and meetings, but sometimes you get disqualified if you go overtime.

The storytelling show was one of them. I needed to lose 300 words. Oh boy…where should I start? I thought, there is no way that I can lose a big chunk of words. Every word is important for my story! I was cranky and grumpy, but eventually and reluctantly, I started cutting words. Losing 23 words wasn’t hard, but I still had 277 words to lose. I needed a serious surgery! Then I started asking myself. Is this dialogue relevant to my story? If I lose this scene, does my story change?  What do I want to tell in this paragraph? Those questions made me realize how much excess fat my story had, and didn’t need.

I recommend we all commit to do a word diet once in a while. Most document editors including Google Docs) have a feature to count words. It’s a good exercise to get your point across clearly within a given time.

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