One of the reasons we want to speak is because we want to share all the valuable information we have. But knowing so much about our topics is also one of the reasons why we can get bogged down when it comes to deciding how much to share in a presentation. Not only do we feel the pressure to deliver our material in a way that’s unique to us, we also feel the pressure to separate ourselves from speakers with similar topics.
Combined, these realities create a speaker’s conundrum…. How much of what we know should we share in a presentation? So, the next time you're considering how much of your knowledge to share with your next audience, consider these Do’s and Don’ts.
Don't open a can of worms you don’t have time to address. Lawyers say this a bit differently, “Don’t volunteer information.” As you’re putting your presentation together, you will inevitably look at an idea and realize there’s a lot more you could say about it. As tempting as that might be, your job as a speaker is to distill your material down to pertinent and relevant information. If it’s a truly relevant piece of information, then maybe it should be part of the core thesis. If it’s more of an interesting add-on, find another way to share it with your audience—like in one of the follow-up emails you’ll be sending out.
Do keep your presentation focused on the topic you’ve chosen for this audience. Drill down to the best 2 to 4 points that will peek your audience’s interest while providing valuable takeaways. Develop each point so that it has its own mini-introduction, mini-body, and mini-conclusion. Make sure each point provides an analogy, an example, or a personal story that lends credibility to the point you’re trying make. Addressing each of your topic building blocks in this way is an excellent strategy for building a great presentation.
Don't fall into the trap of trying to impress people by over delivering with content. I know… people are always telling us that we have to over deliver if we want to “wow” people. We also want to make sure that our audiences know, without any doubt, that we know what we’re talking about. But trying to over deliver when it comes to the content of your presentation isn’t the way to do it. You might run out of time and not be able to finish your presentation, or overwhelm your audience with too much information for them to absorb in one sitting. It could have the exact opposite effect too. Instead of giving them more to think about, you could end up diluting your content so much that it no longer resonates with anyone!
Do remember that your goal isn’t to prove to your audience how smart or generous you are with your content. (For example, if you’re going to speak about how to develop a great presentation, you don’t have to prove how much you know about the topic by doing a deep dive into how to write a perfect mini-introduction, mini-body, and mini-conclusion.) Your goal should be to share enough information so that your audience can walk away inspired to think and feel—or better yet—DO something differently than they did before you spoke. The real gift that every speaker has the power to give is empowerment.
These might seem like “duh” points, but it’s really easy to get so wrapped up in our goals and deadlines that we lose track of the fundamentals. And that’s all I have to say about this topic for now. I’d be ignoring the fundamentals I just shared if I started adding more!
P.S. If you liked these Do’s and Don’ts, you can download a free PDF titled: 7 Costly Mistakes Every Speaker Can and Should Avoid! from our website.