In popular movies and TV shows, the old-time detective would interrupt a crime witness who was blathering on and on with this pointed request: “Just the facts, ma’am.” When it comes to connecting optimally with an audience, however, “just the facts” is generally not enough.
Here’s a rundown of what else spells doom for a speaker.
- Too much information (TMI). Certain personalities feel as though they are cheating an audience or appearing unprofessional if they don’t pile up a ton of facts and supporting data to include in their presentation. If you find yourself overwhelmed with TMI, I recommend you give yourself time to step away for a few hours, then return with a red pen or scissors in hand – real or the icons – and start cutting!
- One size does not fit all. I admit to being what my dear late Mother called “greedy for life.” I don’t really like to say “no” to anything. To save time so I can go enjoy something I haven’t done before, I try to convince myself to re-use a presentation that I’ve worked hard to perfect for a new speaking engagement. But I always wind up tweaking and adjusting the message to carefully line up with the new audience. That’s because every audience deserves and expects my message to be especially created and geared for them. Yours does, too.
- Only stories. A pet peeve is to listen to what are billed as “success stories.” Typically these speakers give a blow-by-blow rendition of how they built their business, became a star athlete, or achieved some kind of celebrity status. While the stories themselves may be entertaining, if they are not followed by what the speaker learned from the experience, recommendations, or ideas I can use, I find myself hoping for a quick end to what I call their verbal diarrhea.