In our distracted world consumed by COVID-19 chaos, it can feel like no one is listening.
At least they aren’t listening the first time, or the second. Maybe the third time’s a charm? Because of this, we feel the need to overcommunicate.
As often as we can we send as much information as we can—because after all, the devil is in the details. That means even the smallest things can trip us up if we don’t pay attention to them.
So, our paragraph-long email turns into two pages, and our 10-minute presentation is now pushing an hour. After all, we’ve got to cover every little detail—and multiple times for those who were distracted.
The devil might be in the details, but so is the distraction. We can’t let details cloud our communication. Otherwise, they become the dreaded distraction.
Instead of overcommunicating, we can use simplification, repetition and amplification to get our message across. These three techniques are highlighting strategies, meaning they help our audience understand and focus on what matters most:
We are a distracted society. However, if in trying to grab attention you are overcommunicating, your messages carry too many details or you’re annoying the audience with your repetition.
Instead, minimize the amount of information you throw at your audience. Get serious about editing. Instead of piling on extraneous details, communicate the most important things via different channels.
That’s were repetition comes in. Even if your audience did catch your point the first time, hearing it again drives it home. But be selective about what you repeat and how you repeat it.
Great marketers don’t just send out the exact same message in the same format. They use all different channels—email, direct mail, social media, television, radio, billboards and more.
Do the same thing in your presentation. Think about not just using your spoken words to reinforce the most important point, but putting them on your slides, distributing them via handouts following the presentation, or engaging the audience beyond the event in social media, reminding them of your main message.
Get creative with what you choose to repeat and how you repeat it. This will help you avoid the annoying data dump of overcommunication.
In his book, “Understanding Comics,” Scott McCloud delivers a unique and profound way of understanding and writing/drawing about communication. Look at what he’s saying here:
(Image via Scott McCloud)
He’s talking about amplification/highlighting/spotlighting. In developing a presentation, it’s not about cramming every single detail into the minutes or slides we have. Instead, highlight the details that matter most, shining a spotlight on key parts of your message.
For example, increase your volume or use a bold font to show the audience that a particular part matters. In this way, we elevate certain points.
What are your main messages? Isolate those. Cut needless details. Repeat your message in creative and varied formats. Amplify only the most important details so they stand out.
A version of this post first appeared on the Ethos3 blog.