Thursday, February 10, 2011

Why Too Much Information Can Hurt Your Presentation

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

When you present to an audience, you want to demonstrate that you're an expert in the topic that you're presenting about. But sometimes, that leads you to present an avalanche of information that overwhelms and confuses the audience.

Why is too much information (TMI) ineffective and detrimental?

• TMI can confuse your audience – they won't know what is important
• TMI abdicates your responsibility as the presenter to organize the information in a coherent way
• TMI will look and feel like a hasty "data dump" of all your raw material onto the audience – the equivalent of giving the first draft of your manuscript to the audience to read instead of a book that has been edited and rewritten
• TMI on your slides will make them hard to read

Rather than present too much information, you can deliver the "right" amount" of information – and "right" is defined in this case as the amount needed to connect to the audience so they can understand your message. (And your message is defined as the one thing that you want the audience to remember from your presentation).

From the entire "universe" of information and data that you know and have gathered about your topic, choose the key pieces that are most relevant to your message and then include them in your presentation. Keep the rest of the material with you, organized so you can access it easily if there is a question during your presentation – or so you can check it after the presentation and get back to someone with the answer.

The result? The audience understands your message without having to sift through extraneous information and you look like an expert – everybody wins!

Gilda Bonanno's blog


Lynn Gaertner-Johnston said...

Gilda, excellent information! In the MBA class I lead on communicating as a leader, TMI is the biggest problem presenters have. When the problem exists, the presenter may have beautiful slides and passion about the subject. But the last minutes are rushed, and the presenter always feels great frustration about succumbing to TMI.

Any more advice on this topic will be welcome!


Gilda Bonanno said...

Thanks for your comment. Yes, this seems to be a common problem - especially when the presenter knows a lot about the topic and is trying to cram too much in...
This issue seems to have struck a chord with many readers, so look for more posts/articles about it in the future!