How to avoid waffling

Many people are concerned that they might start to waffle when they’re presenting. Waffling happens for two reasons:

  1. You haven’t prepared enough or in the right way so you’re not really sure what you want to say.
  2. You prepared your material, but your notes aren’t any help or you forget to look at them and you feel like you have to keep talking.

So to avoid waffling follow these tips:

1. When you’re preparing your presentation, write your main points as assertions

Writing an assertion forces you to think through exactly what you want to say and how to express it succinctly. It’s much better to do this thinking before your presentation, rather than when you’re in front of an audience. It enables you to be clear and concise as you deliver your presentation. If your preparation has just been jotting down a few bullet-points, you may find yourself working out how to express yourself out loud – and so end up waffling.

2. Create notes to keep you on track

Rehearse with your notes to ensure that they work for you. PowerPoint is great software for creating notes – either as bullet-points or mind-maps. Print them as handouts (2 to a page) and then cut the A4 page in two halves so that your notes are A5 size.

Here’s an example of notes in a mind-map format:

The spatial arrangement makes it easy to see with a quick glance where you are and what you want to say next.

3. You don’t always have to be talking! Silence gives you time to think and formulate your next sentence. It also gives your audience time to process what you’ve just said. It’s common when you’re presenting for 0.5 second to feel more like 10 seconds. So rehearse your presentation with a trusted friend and practice giving yourself time to think. Ask for feedback whether your silences were too long.

Following these tips will help you to be clear and understandable to your audience – and avoid waffling.

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2 Comments

  1. i can’t wait for my first presentation after this. thanks to ITC for this scheme. waffling is a truly common challenge a number of people have been victims to. big ups to the ITC team.

  2. This is really assuring that something is being done about waffling, I often find myself distracted and trying to fill the silence with additional information. Like this one time when I was in a meeting and I had met with the manager who I had worked for before in a previous project, where I was living in Russia. I was close to Moscow in a village where the local doctor had visited London before and he recommended his wife was into alternative medicines and she did hypnotherapy. I don’t think I believe in that stuff which is when I started researching presentation techniques, thats how I came across this website. Like

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