Content Reduction: Making Your Presentation Thick To Stick

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Do you want to have a rich finish to your presentation that fills the participants’ mind with an intense flavor that lingers?

Like a fine wine reduction, you need to find a way to reduce excess information while intensifying and thickening the flavor of critical content.

You need a content reduction.

What Is Reduction?

Reduction is a culinary process that thickens a liquid by boiling.

While the wine is boiling, the alcohol evaporates. Only the flavor remains. Boiling down wine concentrates the flavor, including acidity and sweetness.

Chefs use wine reductions to intensify, enhance and accent the flavor and aroma of food. They don’t use wine as a way to mask or cover a flavor. They want to fortify it.

Information Immoderation Leads To Lack Of Attention

As a presenter, you have a great deal of information you want to share. Your mind is full of details, experiences and knowledge.

Your information has a subset of information that has a subset of information that has a subset of information that has… You get the idea. Initially, you want to cover it all.

Here’s the challenge. Your audience already has a mind full of information. And they entered your presentation with specific expectations. Their information and expectations compete every second with your information. Their attention is fragile and easily broken.

Here’s the second challenge. Our working memory has severe limited capacity to pay attention to new information. We can hold two to five things in our working memory for a matter of seconds. Retaining and learning that new information requires time to process. Break that attention and the mind moves on to something else.

Presenters assume that the more they present, the more information the audience receives. That’s not true. Presenting too much information creates cognitive overload, information indigestion and ultimately harms learning. Attention is lost.

The more information we present, the more distracting it becomes. And the more audience’s mind flits to something else.

How To Pair Content And Presentations That Complement Each Other

A presentation can’t focus on anything and everything. It needs to focus on the right things. The right things are those that your audience wants and needs to hear.

To have an effective presentation, you as the presenter have to edit your content. You need to boil it down to the main ideas so that the excess evaporates.

To create a content reduction that compliments your presentation, you should

  1. Reduce the volume of information delivered.
  2. Reduce the speed that the information is delivered.
  3. Present only the most critical information.

When you reduce the amount of content and focus on the right things, you fortify the content. Your content becomes thick and sticks.

Ultimately, as a presenter, your goal is to offer a tasty meal of insight, rich in flavor, full of relevant goodness. Then, the mind savors it. It resonates and leads to learning.

What steps can presenters take to practice content reduction? How can presenters define the most important things that their audience wants to learn?

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jeff Hurt, Assn Resource Ctr. Assn Resource Ctr said: RT @JeffHurt: Content Reduction: Making Your Presentation Thick To Stick #eventprofs #assocforum […]

  2. I like to say my speech out loud many times (in a room, by myself, days before) a presentation. It helps to firm up the connection between the ideas and the specific link to the audience. I may find i am using too many words or that i need an analogy to clarify.

    I also like to use humor. It’s nature is a distraction , the unexpected, from the message ( generally) but it’s value incredible to build rapport etc. Even when I have a limited amount of time I gravitate towards humor because it makes the message stick. It is memorable.

  3. This is a presenter’s biggest challenge. Some of the ways I ensure the best of the best is being shared is:

    Build the slides…cut them in half.
    Develop 5 points…reduce to 3
    Practice in front of someone who doesn’t know the topic at all. What did they get from your talk?
    Try 3 x 3: Three points that are delivered 3 times/ways
    Remember it’s not about showing how smart you are; it’s about letting them leave with one great implementable idea.

    Thanks for the article.

    d’Orleans Hospitality Training

  4. Excellent post, Jeff. I learned this lesson in a big way several months ago… in fact, the epiphany came mid-presentation.

    Content reduction happens in layers for me, with cool down time between layers to get clarity. Fortunately, I have a good bench of advisors to consult to make sure I keep the RIGHT stuff in.

    1. Jeff Hurt says:

      Thanks for reading and responding. Humor is such a great tool that more presenters should consider using…if they are naturally funny. Or they can find funny experiences to share.

      I like your style of building the presentation and they cutting it in half! There’s great wisdom in that. Thanks for reading and sharing your experience.

      Layered content reduction…I like that thought process. Letting the content sit for a while and then returning to it. Thanks for adding that perspective to the conversation.

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