Would you like to have total clarity all the time? Do you ever struggle with making a decision because of too much information? Perhaps you sometimes get stuck in the detail – there are a lot of details aren’t there? And you might occasionally find it hard to see the woods for the trees.
Well that was certainly the case this week for one of my coaching clients. You may know – in my spare time (lol) I coach people who have a message to get across, to develop a killer 90-minute keynote speech.
This week I had a new client. I asked him in advance of our first (of six) 90-minute sessions, to do some prep. After all – my hourly rate is into 3 figures and I want to make sure my mentees get the maximum out of each session.
Well, his prep arrived (about 10 minutes before the session) and I nearly had to cancel because…… there were 69 slides in his PowerPoint about all the things he thought he should be covering in his 90-minute presentation. Well, I got to about slide 15 and emailed him to push the session back half an hour and then I (painfully) made my way through the rest of the information and took a few minutes to gather my thoughts.
What was clear was that his intentions were good – he wanted to give real value during his presentation (on digital marketing). What was also clear was that he would send his audience to sleep and disengage them within the first 10 minutes.
You see what he was doing was trying to cram, what was clearly a 3 or 4 day course into an hour and a half, and that is never going to work. And he was trying so hard to do that, that he was becoming lost in the detail. The problem is – the more into the detail you get, the more you lose people. For a number of reasons. Firstly not everyone needs to know all the details. Some may be relevant for some people and not others. So, detail encourages high interest or lack of interest – more often the latter. And in a presentation from stage – you don’t necessarily know your audiences individual needs. Secondly – the more detailed – the more disagreement. I will explain that more in a minute.
So how do you stop getting lost in the detail and making it hard for your audience / your customers / your team or even yourself – to see the wood from the trees? You need to chunk it up. What do I mean by that?
If I say to an audience of 1000 people – do you think ice hockey is the best sport ever for health – maybe no-one would agree (well statistically 1.4 mill people worldwide play it out of a population of 7.5 billion, which I think works out to a fraction of 1% – OK smarty-pants – you work it out and tell me!).
If I say to the same audience – who thinks winter sports are the best ever? Maybe 10% might agree. If I said – who thinks sport is the best idea ever for your health – a lot more would agree but still not everyone. If I asked – who believes that being active is important for your health – almost no-one would DISagree.
My point is – if you chunk an idea up high enough then you will get agreement and when you are presenting from stage and don’t want hecklers, chunking up is the way to go. It is a tactic that negotiators, sales people, politicians all use. If you can get the idea to a level where you get an agreement, then you can come back down into the detail later.
A similar process applies when you are lost in the detail being ‘busy’ at work. If you can stand back for a minute and ask yourself what are the most important things I should be doing today – you will get the bigger picture answer – and you can work your way back into the detail from there – or preferably – delegate that detail. It is all too easy to answer an email from a client – and ‘just’ do this that or the other for them, for a colleague, for an employee, etc and end up at 5pm wondering what you have achieved all day.
And what did I do with my coaching client? Well, I explained to him that we needed to start from scratch and rather than pick apart what he had done, I questioned him on his key offerings until we got to a level where his audience would be intrigued and not asleep. It was a good start.
If you need any help with public speaking skills let me know – I will be running a workshop on public speaking in the New Year. Until then – chunk up to get clarity in this busy run up to Christmas!!