No one knows if Michelangelo actually responded to a question about how he made one of his most well-known works by saying, “I simply removed everything from the marble block that didn’t look like David.”

For purposes of this post, I don’t care if he said it or not — that powerful visual conveys a truth applicable across a number of disciplines, including public speaking. A well-structured script and well delivered message can be akin to a work of art. Like a classic marble statue, getting there requires the discipline required to cut anything that does not support your key message or hypothesis.

Here are four tips to help you sculpt your next David:

1. Always know how you want your audience to feel or what you want them to do. Most of us feel something when we gaze at the David: awe, appreciation for youth’s vigor and strength, uplifted and inspired. Other great sculptures elicit different reactions from the viewer:  power, beauty, tranquility , all originating from similar blocks of marble at the beginning.

(Above: “Perseus With The Head of Medussa”, Antonio Canova, Rome Italy 1804-6)

(Above: “Andromeda and The Sea Monster”, Domenico Guidi, Rome Italy 1694)

(Above: “Adonis”, Antonio Corradini, Venice Italy, 1723-25)

Your business goal might be more tangible — to convince potential customers to buy your product, raise funds for a nonprofit by eliciting empathy, or incite support for a policy change on an important social issue. Think carefully in advance so you know what you want your audience to think when you’re done. What is the essence of your message? Once you know, you can begin sculpting.

2. Remove the big chunks. While you are developing a presentation, periodically stop and practice out loud so you can recognize and ruthlessly cut overly long introductions, highly detailed technical graphics that no one can see or understand, or too many bullet points on the same page. Getting bogged down in minutia or trying to impress an audience with your knowledge can muddle your presentation. Anything that does not move you closer to your goal of leaving the audience feeling the way you want may belong in another presentation, but not this one.

3. Detail your work. Michelangelo’s genius is that the detail of his work is as captivating as the overall piece. For example, David’s right hand is slightly larger because it is by his side and has more blood than the uplifted left hand. Or here, where the index finger seems to actually press into the fabric of the cap, over the curly locks of hair.

(Above: “Paris”, Antonio Canova, Rome Italy 1822-23)

Similarly, you can wow an audience by including something memorable that makes your point. It can make a huge impact when executed correctly. For example, if you are able to link one of your points with something that relates to your viewer’s “real life” such as a video clip from a popular series, humorous cartoon, a photo that speaks more than a thousand words… what can you add to your presentation that might be relevant, perhaps unexpected, yet on point?

4. Place it on a pedestal. That’s you. You wouldn’t display Michelangelo’s David on a wooden crate and you shouldn’t deliver your presentation in a dry, “next slide…next slide” style. Think about your audience and bring your message to life.

There are lot of Goliaths to conquer out there, so you must ensure your David is both a masterpiece and battle-ready.