The balance of detail versus overview.


One problem most speakers have concerning the content of any speech they present, relates to the level of detail they should give to the audience. Many times speakers have an either or approach. Either they make the content very detailed oriented and a great amount of it or they take the bird’s eye view of their content and just do the generalities with limited detail. I believe both extremes do not work very well. For example, if you have a speaker with 30 years of experience, they just might be attempted to give a very detailed explanation to any major idea they present. Of course there is so much information; it is hard for the audience to decide what is important versus what is just fluff. To any audience member it all sounds important. The best way to see this in action is to watch how your audience takes notes. Many audiences that are in a very detailed presentation are writing furiously as not to miss anything. After a while the audience begins to become overwhelmed and then they simply tune out. The other end of the spectrum is the speaker just gives a bird’s eye view of what they are speaking about with the bare essentials. The speaker assumes that the audience will understand. The problem is that the audience doesn’t understand. Or they understand just part of what you are presenting but they cannot grasp key sections of your speech.

Every speaker must walk the fine line between these 2 approaches. They have to present detail to their audience but now in a way that will overwhelm their audience. At the same time, they need to give an overview of what they are speaking about but give add enough detail that it all makes sense.

A way to test if you are doing it correctly is to present your speech in front of a select test audience. Your test audience maybe fellow speakers or it can be a person whose judgment you trust. Feedback is the most crucial information you need. This feedback will guide you to find the perfect balance.


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