We live in an age of data overload. Being constantly inundated with information is causing our brains to reach saturation point. Most people are spending several hours each day consuming various types of media. It’s a constant consumption of information which leads to a loaded mind and lower attention spans. Information overload causes cognitive overload, a condition that is caused by our brain trying to consume and process too much data, leading to low mental energy and stress. All this means that, if we want to get someone’s attention, we have no choice but to be brief.
Here are some tips to support you in staying on point next time you are preparing to speak or present:
Keep in mind that the more you say the less your audience will hear, so make sure that every single word and phrase adds meaning. Continuously ask yourself whether the content you have prepared reinforces the main message of your speech or presentation – if it doesn’t, then remove it. The wrong way to condense your presentation is to include all the things that you think you need to say, and simply cut them all back to make them a lot shorter. When you rush through multiple topics in summary form they don’t land with any force. You know the full background and context to what you are saying, and so the insights you offer may seem profound to you, however for the audience it can come across as dry or superficial. It’s a simple equation: Overstuffed equals under-explained. To say something interesting you have to take the time to do at least two things: show why it matters and flesh out each point with real examples, stories or facts.
Speaking concisely increases the chances of your audience retaining the information you provide. While benefitting your audience, speaking concisely benefits you too. When you speak concisely you convey a professional tone that can show respect for your colleagues and their time. Nevertheless, do not compromise brevity for clarity. Remember that being concise requires a fine balancing act with being clear enough.
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