When my children were young, I dreaded going to the store to buy children’s aspirin. I remember standing there at the wall of products completely overwhelmed and very clear that there were many options but not clear at all about the right choice. Aspirin, Tylenol, ibuprofen or store brand? Pills, capsules, chewable, or liquid? Infants, child, teen or adult? Cherry, berry, or grape? Coated or uncoated? With fever reducer or without? 10, 25 or 100? It was too much!
I always worried that no matter what I brought home, it would not be the right choice.
Speakers often overwhelm audiences in the same way. In an effort to fully educate, to tell the whole story, we give too much information and too many options. We give more than the audience wants, can remember, or can even keep straight in their head. Speakers often try to cram what has take years or even decades to learn into a 40 minute presentation.
Given too many choices or too much information, audiences become dazed. Rather than being moved to action, they are more likely moved to a state of paralysis. In a sales situation, this means no sale. In a management situation, this means no change in behavior. In a community forum, it means no change in belief
An effective speaker gives the audience one clear message. An effective speaker supports that one message with 3-5 supporting points, and they are done. An effective speaker keeps it clean and simple. An effective speaker is able to discern what needs to be stated and what needs to be left out.
Take the time to figure out your one message and find your three to five supporting subtopics, and leave everything else out.
The worst that can happen when you give less is your audience will want more information and ask you a question.
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