#1 Audience Complaint – Up the Introvert Alley

Cramming too much information into a short span of time

You’ve been in these audiences before. You hear the speaker say, “let’s get started because we have a lot to cover”. Motivation to dig in and listen? No. This comment is more like motivation to groan, to tune out, to pull out the notepads to start doodling.

This happens most often when “experts” take the stage. They don’t know their audience, don’t take the time to focus their message based on how much time is given to them and want instead to solve all the problems related to their topic. Problem is – the audience doesn’t care to take that much effort to follow them, especially if the speaker doesn’t care to hone their message.

I remember the time when I was teaching high school, I was given the chance to deliver the commencement address. I worked for days to pack things into my message – unfortunately, I thought that would give me credibility. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The best part of the speech was when I said, “so in conclusion”. That’s when my audience woke up!

Interestingly, in most cases these speakers are introverts. Like me, they are subject matter experts who are given the chance to prove it. The more they talk, the more they validate their status. Yet, the eyes in the audience quickly glazes over.

Has this happened to you lately? I hope not, if you’re the audience member. And if you’re a speaker, maybe you can learn a quick lesson from me.

What I should have done is hone my message. Write out my speech word for word, then practice delivering it aloud in order to keep to the time limit. When we can see our speech we can revise it. Nonessential sections will stand out and revision becomes easier. Whittling down the message usually begins with cutting out a third.

If you are an introvert, are a subject-matter expert, and are given the chance to present to an audience, hone your message. Your expertise will be much more credible and your message concise. Your audience will not be complaining that you talked too much – they will be singing  your praises.

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On January 18th, 2012, posted in: rambling, revising by