Getting to the Point

We’ve all thought it (or said it) at some point, and we’ve probably had it thought (or said) about us. No matter what the situation – a presentation to hundreds of people, an email to a colleague, or a call to your mom – nothing muddles a message like too much information.

A Microsoft consumer study from 2016 claims tends to put a seed of invalidation to the study] that the average human attention span today is down to about eight seconds. Whether that’s true for everyone, it’s always safe to assume a listener wants to know your important points, and they want to know them fast.

To keep your message clear and concise, there are some basic questions to keep in mind:

  • Who is your audience? There’s a big difference in what information is important or any given group. For example, if you’re presenting to a group of salespeople, don’t present the same scientific details you’d give at a medical conference.
  • What are you presenting? Boil your information down to as few key points as possible. Then you know what everything else you say should be focused on.
  • Why does it matter? Given that all facts are not created equal, and everything you know on a subject is not relevant, have a clear objective in mind. If you can’t think of a good reason to say something: cut it. (needs to be slimmed a bit)

With spoken presentations however, knowing your message is only half the battle. Once you start talking, you also have to know when to stop – easier said than done.

  • Know your material. If you’re not confident about your content, you’ll be locked inside your head while your mouth keeps moving. . Your audience will lose interest instantly… or within 8 seconds!
  • Keep moving forward. It’s easy to backtrack and start repeating yourself. Rather than erring on the side of repetition, charge ahead! If someone in your audience needs clarification, (and it’s important), they’ll ask.
  • Seriously. Nothing gives you a more natural pause. In the heat of the moment, it’s surprisingly easy to forget!

Above all, remember that you are the master of your subject, and that’s why your audience is out there. Keep it simple for them.

Give them your best, just don’t give them your all!