Keep It Simple, Sweetheart

“Considering the inherent value of every person on the planet, I optimistically envision a future where all people are treated equally regardless of what they look like or in what part of the country they live.”  

 - Not what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said

Traps to Avoid

Ever wonder why TED talks are so popular? Is it because they’re short? Or because the speakers are smart? Actually, yes on both counts. You see smart people reducing complex thoughts to essential nuggets.

The most effective communicators, leaders and speakers keep their message simple and targeted. And you can, too.

Avoid these 3 traps:

Trap #1: We share too much information. The temptation is assume it’s better to spray and pray something sticks than to only aim at a narrow target.

Instead: Put yourself in the mindset of your audience. What do they already know? What information may confuse them? Remember, less is more as you walk the line between "new information" and "a lot of new information."

Trap #2: We have too many ideas. It's tough when you're the expert and know everything (or at least a lot more than your audience knows) about the topic.

Instead: Resist the urge to show off your other knowledge. As you plan your talk, make sure that everything you say directly relates directly to your one central idea – your point of view.

• Trap #3: We love our material too much. Maybe you really want to tell a funny story that always draws a laugh, but it isn’t actually related. Or maybe you have a great slide or a fascinating table that is difficult to read.

Instead: Save that story. Consider adding that slide to the appendix. Share the key finding from the table instead of all that data. Include what’s essential to your point of view, but not more than that. Remember - you’ll usually have a Q&A to clarify things.

With simplifying in mind, we urge you to recall the words of Seth Godin at the end of his Really Bad Powerpoint ebook:

Sorry that this e-booklet is so short. Actually, if I hadn’t spent so much time on it, it would be longer.

It takes time to simplify, but it’s worth it.


One thought on “Keep It Simple, Sweetheart
  1. You do have to go through your speech and view it as the audience would to make sure it all makes sense, nothing is left out, and it’s relevant to them. It’s a tricky balance to want to tell all that you know as an expert and yet make sure you don’t cover things they already know. That’s when it helps to have a long conversation with the meeting planner to find out.

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