YOU have probably heard the well-known old joke about letter-writing: "This is a very long letter because I did not have time to write a short one."

It applies also to when you are giving a short talk.

In the speech game, if you do not take the time to craft a tight, focused presentation for a short talk, you will lose your audience. You may also lose your reputation.

For a speech of any length, you have to craft the talk well, practise it well and deliver it well.

Unfortunately, many speakers often treat a brief talk as inconsequential. They think: "This is only a five-minute talk, so I'll just wing it. No need to practise such a short speech."

This mentality can lead to disaster.

Smart speakers know better. They treat all talks as important.

Let's take a look at the 10 most critical features of crafting and delivering short speeches.

Make it snappy

1. The writing for short speeches has to be better than for long ones. You have less time to get your critical message across.

2. You must make sure the audience gets the central core theme of your message - right away.

3. You have no luxury of "warming up" your audience as you sometimes can do in a longer talk or a seminar. You must make the first impression the best.

4. You have no time to wander around the subject. Go off on a tangent and, in a flash, your time will be up. And you will be sitting down...with your audience wondering what in the world you have just said.

5. If you are disorganised, you will trail past your allotted time, and no one likes that - not the audience, the promoter or the other speakers after you.

6. If you do not want to blend in anonymously with all the other speakers before and after you, create an impactful moment. A clever quote, a great joke or surprising statistics will help you stand out and be memorable.

7. The logical flow of your talk must be tighter than in a longer talk, or your audience will perceive you simply as a five-minute blatherer.

8. Memorise your talk well. You will have no time to develop it as you go or use audience interaction or other speech devices to help you remember your material.

9. You have to "play off" the previous speaker so that you get the audience's attention quickly. If your style is the same as what they have just heard, they may easily tune you out.

10. One wise person said: "There is only one purpose in giving a speech, and that is to get the audience to think differently, feel differently or act differently."

Know how you want the audience to change as a result of your time on the platform, and you will very likely hit the mark with them.

Don't reveal everything

Many speakers want to "tell everything they know" about a subject.

In a day-long seminar, this may be somewhat possible but never in a speech of an hour's length.

In a speech shorter than that, it is a disaster. You will never get going, and your audience will be confused.

Instead, keep your message to the point, on target and focused.

Remember, for every 15 minutes of platform time, the smart, dedicated speaker spends an hour in development, rehearsal and preparation. It makes a difference.

A famous violinist once said: "When I do not practise for three days, my audience can tell. When I do not practise for two days, my orchestra can tell. When I do not practise for one day, I can tell."

And so it is with speech-making. You want your audience to applaud you, think well of you and act on your message.

Doing all that takes some effort on your part.