As a teacher and speaker, it still happens to me. Almost all the time actually. Even after many years of practice. My Toastmasters colleagues often remind me, but I can’t seem to learn.
In my lectures and speeches, I deliver too much info, I speak too fast and afterwards, I wonder why I can’t manage to fit all the material I prepared.
In his great book Brain Rules, Dr. John Medina calls this practice force-feeding, and says it’s the most common mistake in communication. Actually, the problem isn’t so much the amount the information, but the time given to connect the dots afterwards.
Why do teachers and trainers overstuff their students?
They focus too much on the feeding (teaching) and too little on the digesting (learning). Don’t get me wrong. Lectures and speeches are one of the best ways to quickly communicate knowledge, but the problem is that very little learning occurs while they’re given. Learning is an active and internal process that takes place afterwards.
What can you do to remedy that?
The solution is to prioritize learners, and learners want focus and clarity. Most experts forget what it’s like to be a novice, and flood their audience with too much information.
As a professional speaker once told me, a good speech should only deliver one point, and your audience must be able to clearly identify what it is. Lectures should similarly focus on one core concept.
So how can I defeat that communication demon, and finally become a great communicator?
I must understand that less is more. I must slow down, eliminate needless information, and focus on the one thing I want my class or audience to remember after I stop speaking.