A simple tip to make your presentation stand out

fresh fish sign

 How do you make sure that people take something away from your presentation?

You’ll know after you read this short but powerful story about a small fish shop:


When Vijay opened his store he put up a sign that said “We Sell Fresh Fish Here.” His father stopped by and said that the word “We” suggests an emphasis on the seller rather than the customer, and is really not needed. So the sign was changed to “Fresh Fish Sold Here.” 

His brother came by and suggested that the word “here” could be done away with – it was superfluous.

Next, his sister came along ad said the sign should just say “Fresh Fish”. Clearly, ii is being sold; what else could you be doing?

Later, his neighbor stopped by to congratulate him. Then he mentioned that all passers-by could easily tell that the fish was really fresh. Mentioning the word fresh actually made it sound defensive as though there was room for doubt about the freshness. Now the sign just read: “FISH.” 

As Vijay was walking back to his shop after a break he noticed that one could identify the fish from its smell from very far, at a distance from which one could barely read the sign. He knew there was no need for the word “FISH.”


The point of the story is by eliminating the not-so-important you’ll get down to the essential. And by having only the essential left, your presentation will support YOUR TALK instead of the other way around.

Thank you to Garr Reynolds for sharing the story in his book Presentation Zen