Carrin RobertsonSessionLab

Less is More- an exercise in editing

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This exercise is ideal for editing written content in a hands-on way. A simple and effective exercise for editing workshop content or presentation text for talks. Use it when you have to write for a specific audience and want them to stay focused on the most important information.



To narrow down what you have to say into the most the most necessary information.




    1. To start: get out a pen and paper and write down everything you want to say. This ensures you have all of the information out in black and white. Perhaps set a timer, or assign the exercise as homework. The idea here is to free-flow write.
    2. Leave a break between the free-flow exercise and the next part- whether that is a day, or a half-hour coffee break, it is entirely up to you. The reason is to be able to come back to the written content with fresh eyes.
    3. Now comes the editing. A lot of writing is quite self-indulgent, so consider the audience. You may even have a persona created. Cut up sections of the paper, into paragraphs or full ideas.
    4.  Sift through each piece, keeping only what is the most necessary information, and collate it together in one pile. 
    5. Review the remainder, being as critical as possible, always asking if that sentence really is necessary or not.
    6. Arrange the pieces that you have kept into a logical sequence. The beauty of having physical pieces of paper is that we can get hands-on with our editing. 


    Recently I had written a LOT of information for a presentation. A day later, I took a second view, and came up with a new method of editing my work. A lot of writing is quite self-indulgent, so I had consider the audience and the time-frame. I cut up sections of the paper, keeping only what was the most necessary information, and collated it together in one pile. The rest I re-visited to decide if it was worth sharing or not. And almost all of what was left wasn’t. In cases where it's likely you’ll have a lot of content, the editing stage is so valuable to ensure your audience has the information relevant to them. Don’t bore their socks off 😉

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