The Data Sweet Spot
Updated: Apr 24
As we march into 2021 many executives gather in boardrooms and virtual rooms to plan with their teams, prepare for stakeholder meetings, and make their cases to clients. At one time or another, most presenters struggle with how much information to include in a presentation. When does a well-built case become a detail overdose and when does brevity become underwhelming? While there is no hard and fast formula to finding the perfect balance, here are a few tips to help.
Have a clear objective. What must people understand and/or act on, based on your information? Each point should further your case—so include what you need, no more and no less.
Prioritize. For closet geeks, it’s tempting to teach a course or offer the entire oral history of a project. Instead, include only top priority information. A good way to identify priority data is to ask yourself, “Did I make my main point sufficiently?” When the answer is yes, stop. If you have trouble figuring it out, get feedback from someone you trust.
Research what your audience already knows. So many times executives get feedback that they either skipped over important contextual information, which cripples your argument, or repeated info their audience had already heard, which makes people tune out.
Keep it short and mix it up. Using EEGs to monitor brain activity, a Microsoft study showed that the average adult attention span in 2015 was eight seconds (one second shorter than a goldfish). This is a drastic decrease from 12 seconds in the year 2000 and will likely keep decreasing. Offer information in small bite-size pieces rather than long, winding sentences. Vary your sentence structures. This will help keep your audience engaged.
When in doubt, try this simple formula:
C. Conclusion (what this means/relevance)