As an investigative reporter, I gathered a lot of information for stories. My stories were longer than most on TV, but I still prevented myself from squeezing too much information into the report. Yes, I wanted to share all the details I considered important. However, cramming too many facts into one story would leave viewers with a blur of information.
Now we put together videos for businesses and advise them not to try to relay too much in two minutes. Video is different than text. Text allows readers to delve into the details. Video presents more of a headline for viewers. Video often hopes to quickly grab your attention and direct you to further reading.
This is the challenge for me when listening to a President of the United States speak about the State of The Union or address an audience at political conventions. The conventional wisdom is to offer listeners a list of achievements and new ideas. The topics are wide-ranging and often complex for many people.
I watched ABC News when President Obama spoke at the Democratic National Convention. Some of ABC’s analysts discussed what they considered the tone and theme of the speech. Some pundits described Obama’s words as several speeches rolled into one. I’m not a fan of leaving such an impression. I understand firsthand the desire to want to relay so much information in such a short period of time. However, I recommend making a choice and focusing on one important theme. Pick a key message and repeat and return to it. Reference other topics but circle back to the core issue. Make your key message obvious. Connect the dots for listeners. Don’t force analysts to connect the dots for your audience. When I reported on TV, I often felt I successfully broke through the information overload barrier when a viewer later repeated back to me a recurring line in my story. I hammered away strongly at one key message instead of touching on several topics in mediocre fashion.
This approach is easier said than accomplished. In both politics and business, pressure is put on leaders to address so many issues. Analysts wait in the shadows, ready to pounce when someone omits this or that. However, I still prefer leaving listeners and viewers with a few well-connected lines, a common theme they are more likely to repeat to their friends and co-workers. Otherwise, I fear their eyes and minds will wander elsewhere when faced with too many broad-ranging topics at once.