One of the qualities the most sought-after speakers have in common is that they are so genuinely interested in their topics that their enthusiasm is contagious. As soon as they take the stage, they engage their audiences and keep them engaged throughout their presentation. How do they accomplish that time after time? For one thing, they’ve mastered the balance between too much and too little information.
In our last newsletter, we covered the “TMI” conundrum of having too much information and not enough time to share it. This time we’re focusing on how to decide whether or not an idea we’re considering can generate enough content to fill out the time we’ve been allotted. To help you make an informed choice about whether or not one of your ideas is ready to fly solo, here are three questions:
Can you create an adequate outline for the idea? Sometimes we think our ideas are so brilliant (and they usually are) but that doesn’t mean it’s going to take more than a few minutes to talk about it. So try outlining it. If you can’t come up with more than a couple of bullet points, you’re going to struggle to build a full presentation. On the other hand, you might have identified a great source of content for a handout or free report to share with your audience—can’t have enough of those!
Does your audience need this information to follow your content? Consider what level your audience is at in regards to your content. If you can explain and deliver your content without this piece of information, regardless of how interesting it is, it might not be relevant to your audience. If it is relevant, then perhaps you’ve discovered a prerequisite to your work, or the next level for your work… which is great! It’s easy for speakers to forget how much they know compared to their audiences. And it’s awesome to realize that your work has grown to the point where it can be broken down into people learning about your topic for the first time, and people who are ready for the next level.
How is this idea/information relevant? Not every presentation is about making sales at the end; but every presentation does have a goal, and it’s important that your content guides your audience towards that goal. Unfortunately that means there are going to be times when ideas and information—even brilliant ones—aren’t going to be compelling enough to hold an audience’s attention for a whole presentation. And that means coming up with another way to deliver that content, because if you try to wedge it into your presentation, the end result might not be what your host had in mind when they invited you to speak.
When you’re comfortable with the content you’ve chosen for your presentation, it’s easy to look forward to stepping onto that stage. And it’s true that genuine enthusiasm can cover up for many mistakes, but not having enough content in your presentation shouldn’t be one of them. As speakers, it’s up to us to find that “Goldilocks” balance between what we know, what our audience wants to know, and what our hosts expect.
How do you achieve your Goldilocks’ balance? Have any great ideas? Please share!