We've all heard the term information overload, and have probably even experienced it a time or two (or 100). So why is that when we prepare a speech or presentation we throw in everything but the kitchen sink? It's not your fault! Well, it is, but here's why....
You speak on what you know and love because you're passionate and knowledgeable about it. But it's important to remember that your audience may not be quite as excited about the topic as you are. And even if they are, people have a limited capacity for how much they can jam into their heads at one time. That's why it's better to deliver a smaller amount of content in a relevant and impactful way than to bombard your audience with facts, figures, information and anecdotes that leave them feeling overwhelmed and confused.
RULE OF THUMB: Stick to no more than 3 to 5 main points during any speech or presentation.
Any more than that and you are in danger of losing your audience. When developing your presentation, define your purpose (why you're speaking), objective (what your goal for that specific presentation is) and core message (the essence of what your talk is about). Then, make sure each of your main points and supporting content directly ties back to all three.
As you're preparing your presentation ask yourself: Does including this help me accomplish my purpose and objective for this talk? Does it support and directly relate back to my core message? Relevance is key when answering these questions.
If it's a great point and you really want to talk about it, but it has no relevance to your purpose, objective or core message, you should leave it out of the talk. Likewise, if it's not crucial to making your point, you should leave it out (you'll have to do a serious gut check here). Once you remove all the muck and mire, you'll be left with a clear, concise presentation that wows your audience.