Speaking Tip #17
Think back to the last time you ate at a buffet: did you scan ahead to see what was offered other than the food in front of you? You were probably thinking you have a limited amount of space in your belly and should fill it with those things most important to you. While you may have appreciated the abundance, you did not place equal value on all the choices. You took some of one dish while ignoring others completely.
Information is like this: some is very important to us while other information is of lesser value.
As speakers, we often feel the need to tell everything we know on a subject. We feel we are cheating, or not telling the whole truth, if some bit of information is left off. “Data dumps” tend to overwhelm, overstuff, or just plain bore the audience. Rather than going away with more information, listeners check out, and retain less.
It is up to you as speaker to determine which 3-5 bits of information are essential to your point. The most important info may vary from situation to situation even though the topic is the same. The objective of your talk, the audience, and what you want the audience to remember will determine which information is critical. Everything else should be left out. While this may seem hard, your audience will appreciate your efforts. You will make it easier for them to understand and retain the information you give them.
It is hard to cut information out of your talk. The goal, however, is to awaken and provoke the audience. If there is something not covered that is of interest to them, they will ask.
As you plan your next presentation, whether it is to a large group or one-on-one, take time to scan ahead at the great buffet of information ahead of you. Select what to say and what to leave out. This will help your audience remember your message while reducing the chances of overstuffing them.
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