What Is Your Big, Shiny Object?

If you tell an audience everything, you’ve told them nothing. People can only take in so much information in any given amount of time, and loading them with too many new facts can prevent them from absorbing your most important one.

That’s obvious, I know, but many speakers—even some of the smartest, most thoughtful people I know—try to put too much content into their presentations. As a result, the main point they really want to shine through gets obscured by an overabundance of rhetorical clutter.

So I often ask my clients a deceptively simple question: What is your big, shiny object?

Big Shiny Object Ball iStockPhoto PPT Quality

Your big, shiny object is your most important point—the one you want your audience to walk out of your presentation remembering more than any other. Because it’s big and shiny, and because you’re holding it out for the audience’s examination, they can’t help but to see it.

But as you add additional points, picture your big, shiny object getting covered with a thin layer of dust. You can still see the object, but it’s not quite as brilliant as it once was.

As you add unrelated points, picture your big, shiny object getting covered with a thin layer of moss. The object’s brilliance is now in question, because all you can see is a ball with only a few small uncovered areas of brightness still peeking through.

As you deliver your presentation without emphasizing the most important point with a verbal and physical delivery that indicates clearly that THIS IS THE KEY POINT, picture your big, shiny object becoming a dull concrete wrecking ball. It’s no longer brilliant. It’s just an unremarkable object that’s taking up a lot space and weighing down your speech.

Your job as a speaker is to identify your big, shiny object long before you hit the stage. If you go into your presentation with that clarity, your audience will walk away afterward sharing that same clarity.

As you put together your presentations, review every point you’re planning to make and ask yourself this question: “Does this point help people see, understand, care about, and/or act upon my big, shiny object?” If not, it’s a good sign that you should probably cut that point, for it would only serve to obscure, not illuminate.


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