Working recently with someone in the freight business, I was sharing the importance of knowing your limits when delivering a presentation. "You need to limit your message to a few key points," I said. "Otherwise, you'll overload your audience."
“We call that the ‘thin-ice syndrome’ at our company,” he said.
He told me that the “thin-ice syndrome” is when a truck driver attempts to deliver goods in bad weather or under poor road conditions despite advice to the contrary. Apparently this behavior doesn’t work any better in transferring goods than it does in transferring thoughts. You have to recognize the constraints of your delivery mechanism or you can lose the package altogether.
Just as truckers must recognize the hazards associated with bad weather, to be succesful as a speaker, you have to recognize the limits of the medium. Delivering a presentation is a great way to communicate a few key points, tell stories related to those points, and show how you feel about your topic. It is not a great way to share everything you know. Why? Because listening isn’t easy and your audience is more likely to remember a few points that you’ve hammered home than an exhaustive list of details.
So what can you do if you want to tell all? Encourage your audience to ask questions all through your talk and take time to stop and answer them. That way you’ll make sure to give them the information that is most important to them while keeping your presentation focused and memorable.
So whether you are driving a truck or delivering a speech, be aware of the thin ice. If you ignore it, you may end up all wet.
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