Too Much Information when public speaking by Peter Dhu

A common error that speakers make when presenting is to give too much information. You leave with a page of notes and so much information that you struggle to recall the core message or the simple strategy that you can use to solve a problem.

The great speakers around the world tend to keep their information concise, to the point and generally, they try and leave the audience with one big clear message. We have all experienced death by PowerPoint, and we have been bombarded with so much data and statistics that we are not sure what is what. We have all been to presentations where we have left wondering exactly what was the point of the talk, what was the take home message and you are unsure of what you need to do next.

When preparing a presentation, I would ask you to focus on one big core message that is clear, concise, and relevant to everyone in the room. Ask yourself as the presenter, “if my audience only remembers one thing from my talk, what is that one thing’.  This question will always help you clarify the one message that you want to convey to everyone in the room.

With public speaking, the “Keep It Simple” (KIS) principal is alive and well and a good rule to follow when preparing and delivering your speech or presentation.

When you have too much information and you bombard your audience with multiple messages, or too many PowerPoint slides or lots of data, all at once, you risk diluting your core message. We call this phenomenon of unclear or mixed messages as the Scatter Gun Approach”. In other words, the speaker says a lot and hopes that something sticks to their audience.

Herbert Simon, Nobel Prize winner, stated that “a wealth of information causes poverty of attention”.

So, as you are preparing your speech and you want to be clear of your core message, ask yourself, how does this information amplify and clarify my core message? How does this data or statistic amplify and clarify my core message? How does this story or anecdote add to or demonstrate my core message? Because one thing is for sure, too much information will dilute and detract from your core message.

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