It’s an age-old argument … that bigger is better.
And without getting into too much anatomical detail or economic theory, sometimes it is.
Does that mean more is better too?
Well when it comes to speaking, the belief that more is better has been many a speaker’s downfall … including my own!
For me, I think it comes from the old school idea that more information means a higher mark, and possibly the old-school culture of an information age where information was king and prized above rubies.
It also comes, I think, from a need to come from a place of power as a speaker – a place of asserting authority on a subject, of being seen as the expert.
There’s an old speaking proverb that says “When you squeeze your information in, you squeeze your audience out.”
In order to create power for ourselves, we inadvertently take away power from the audience.
Some of the best speaking engagements I have had, have been where I was able to ask the audience questions – and get answers. Sometimes the groups were small enough to have an actual conversation, sometimes there were large so that I had to have show of hands or some other type of response. But I sensed the feeling of validation in the people who responded and in those around them. And we learnt from each other, sometimes far more than they simply would have learned from me.
There is value in giving power to our audiences.
There is value in not squeezing them out with an overload of information, too.
We want to be remembered. What is it that we want to be remembered for?
We want an outcome, a next step, for our audiences to take. What is that one step?
How many things do you remember from the last presentation you attended? One? Maybe three?
How many next steps can we realistically expect an audience to take when we finish speaking, or in the days, weeks, months afterwards? One? Any more than one?
So there is value then, in giving only the information that will contribute to that single powerful memory or that single next step. Give too much information , more than anyone could be expected to remember, or act upon, and we give nothing more than confusion, a garbled message. The result – forgettable and ineffective.
In this age driven by quick visuals and 140-character messages, there is enormous power is presenting a very focused, very memorable single message or two. You will be invited back, and/or you will have built a bridge to further communication and then can share more.
We can still be seen to be giving valuable loads of information, but remember at the same time that one single focus, that one memorable message.
Can you, as Carmine Gallo has challenged his students, write your message in 140 characters?
Bigger is not always better.
More is not always better.
And for speakers, less is definitely more.