Do You Give Your Audience Too Much Of A Good Thing?

On Saturday, we stopped for ice cream on the way home from a family hike. This is what they brought my son:

Too Much Of A Good Thing

I’m sure the person in the kitchen thought she was doing her customer a favor. Who doesn’t want a LOT of ice cream, topped by even more whipped cream, when they order a treat? I’m sure she was thinking: I want to make sure my customer is getting his money’s worth!

Do you ever feel the need to do this with your audience? You only have 15 or 30 minutes and your topic is really important, so you’re going to be sure your audience gets its money’s worth. You’re going to load your presentation full of facts and figures – all stuff that you obviously feel is both essential and interesting – to make sure your audience leaves full and satisfied.

What’s that, someone suggests? Cut down on some of your content and identify the one or two most important points? Ha! That’s insanity. It’s ALL important.

The problem with this line of thought is that if it’s all important, then nothing is truly a priority. Look at that ice cream cone in the picture. My son stopped after a couple of minutes because it was too overwhelming to him. He certainly tried, but after a while it didn’t even taste good to him. In fact, it took three family members to put that ice cream cone down.

When it comes to presentation design, it’s essential to separate the “must have” information from the “nice to have” information. As Shannon Tipton has written in her excellent Learning Rebels blog, “people don’t need to know how to build a watch in order to tell time.”

The next time you’re getting ready for a presentation, make sure you identify the #1 essential thing that people need to know when they walk out the door. Putting too much content into your next presentation because you find the topic interesting can be intimidating and overwhelming to your audience. And they may decide that your presentation isn’t worth the calories.



7 thoughts on “Do You Give Your Audience Too Much Of A Good Thing?

    • Ooooo. I like that. “Good information doesn’t always mean useful information.”

      And when people are busy and take time out of their day for a presentation or a training or an elearning component, they don’t *need* good information, they need *useful* information.

      Thanks for the comment (and the follow)!

  1. Great post today, Brian! I have had this conversation with different business partners many, many times….we don’t always need to cover **every** point about **every** topic in **every** training session/module/experience. Having a clear objective of what the participants will need to learn/apply is key!

    BTW…your son is too cute! 🙂

    • Thanks Michelle. I just had a conversation with a colleague this morning and SHE had to remind ME that I don’t need to always cover **every** point about **every** topic… guess it’s a lot easier said than done!

      And yes, my son gets away with a lot of things as a result of his cuteness…

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