Back in 2016, while teaching MBA 2nd-year students, I was astounded by what Raj told me.
“Sir, my overall attendance in all the other lectures is less than 20%. But your lecture… it’s different. I have not missed a single one!”
And while I don’t mean to brag (okay, I do mean to brag a little bit), I couldn’t quite figure out why he loved my lectures…
It wasn’t just Raj. The feedback that I received was off the charts. My classes were popular among students.
After some digging, I stumbled upon the truth. All the teachers were smart. Competency wasn’t the problem. Perhaps, they were a lot more competent than me. The students didn’t want to attend their lectures as they were confused, overwhelmed, and bored.
The teachers were overwhelming the students with information.
We overwhelm our audience too
Most of us are eager to convey our thoughts and feelings to our audience. And so we write. And then we don’t know where to stop. And so we write some more. And before we know it, our writing becomes bloated. Too much information overwhelms the audience and they lose interest.
An opportunity to build a deep connection has been missed.
Let’s find out ways of avoiding this.
1. Is it your insecurity?
Ever been in a relationship when you were the needy one? I have certainly been in one of those. When you are needy in a relationship, you feel the pressure of doing more. We are so afraid of losing our partner that we overcompensate. Instead of acting with love, we act from a place of fear.
A similar thing may happen in our writing. When we don’t feel secure, we overexplain. This is where our writing starts getting bloated.
Being mindful of this tendency helps. Trust your audience. They will get it. No need to over-explain.
2. It’s a long, long game
Unless I am hit by a bus tomorrow, this article will not be my last. I will be writing many more… and thus have many more opportunities to convey my ideas.
Quite unburdening, right?
I don’t have to squeeze all of my ideas into one article. One article can have one idea… and if I have more to say, I could always convey that in a different article.
3. A single transformation
As your audience reads an article, they transform.
But how many transformations take place?
The answer is 1.
Your writing should aim to bring about one transformation in your audience.
Anything more than that is noise. And the noise will overwhelm them.
Before your reader came across your writing, he was at State A. And now he is going to be at State B. Define what A and B are. And then let your writing carry out the mission of bringing them from A to B.
With this in mind, your writing is bound together by one singular mission, preventing it from going in all different directions.
But how do I prioritize one thing?
Despite all the 3 points mentioned above, choosing one central theme for your article could be challenging. It’s a big decision. Unfortunately, there is no formula for the right answer.
This is where you need to trust yourself and act as a movie director. You get to decide the story.
Speaking of which, I never told you why students loved attending my lectures.
I never overwhelmed them with information. I told them stories.