We just returned from a Citrix conference training sales and marketing teams. Citrix products and services are highly complex, and clients have varying degrees of understanding how they work. The challenge for Citrix is to capture the attention of a potential client, especially the CEO who tends to have very little time or interest in going into the weeds.

The Citrix challenge reminded us of poetry, where the best writers choose words that have high octane energy. Unlike long form writing, poetry necessitates compressing an idea or concept. When a writer (or speaker) can employ shorter sentences with specific and descriptive words, they are much more likely to retain the interest of the audience.

Consider the elegance of Joyce Kilmer's "I think I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree." Few remember the rest of the poem. One image says it all. Or read aloud Shakespeare's "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day. Thou art more lovely and more temperate."

When constructing your next presentation, edit your content until you've reached the most elegant, clear form. Discard useless words like "help." Specifically describe what you did for the client. Eliminate data overload and focus on what the client wants to hear that will serve them best. Find words that match whatever challenge the client faced, actions you took, and benefits they received. Reduce your slides to a bare minimum. When you own your story and deliver it in a compelling way, no one cares about PowerPoint. Triggering the imagination is sheer poetry.

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