In a recent Heads Up Executive Presence and Presentation (EPP) skills seminar, one participant admitted “yes” to all the above. Here’s the teaching metaphor I used with her. I said:
“Suppose I wanted to show you my appreciation by sending you a basket of fruit. What kind of fruit do you like?” “Mangoes,” she replied. “Can you picture a beautiful woven basket of colorful mangoes, wrapped in pretty tissue, sitting on your kitchen countertop?” “Oh yes!” she replied. “Suppose I REALLY wanted to express appreciation. Suppose I sent you a huge wooden crate with 200 pounds of ripe mangoes. How would you feel about this gift?”
“Not good,” she replied. “That would be more of a burden than a gift.” “But you told me you love mangoes!” I teased. “Yes, but that’s just too many mangoes!” she replied. “Well, when you are asked to share the gift of your expertise in a meeting and you over-talk, or overload people with too much detail, it’s the same thing. It’s a burden that they need to sort through in order to get what they really want and need.” “Too many mangoes,” she said. “Exactly,” I replied.
Too many mangoes became the coaching phrase the class used to coach each other whenever they observed another classmate going into too much detail. This, in turn, alerted the speaker to be more self-aware and thus more able to use the content-management tools learned in class.
I know that most of the time an over-talker is actually trying to be helpful. However, the real question to ask is, “Is this extra layer of detail really helping, or is it creating a burden for my listeners?”
Want to give the perfect content “gift?” Always:
1. Analyze the audience’s needs and wants,
2. Practice out loud to time your comments, and
3. Come in under your allotted time.
The result? You’ll be giving two gifts: Knowledge AND time!