Hausman’s Laws About How Much Material to Put into a Presentation

Here are three immutable facts of life. Let’s call them Hausman’s laws:

Law 1: Everyone worries about having too little material for a presentation and running short.

Law 2: Nobody ever has too little material and runs short.

But because people relentlessly continue to believe in Law 1, we inescapably come to…

Law 3: A lot of people giving presentations therefore have way too much they want to cover, they try to cram in and regurgitate too much information, and thus they turn the occasion into a desultory data dump. And they talk too quickly as a result of their panic to wedge everything in.

It’s reasonable that you will start with too much material to cram into a presentation. In fact, that’s the way it should be. I won’t invent any more laws, but if I did, the next one would be something like, “whether in an article, book, or presentation, you know the content is going to be good when you have too much good information and it becomes difficult to pare it down.”

carl-at-lectern-daytimeSo feel free to collect a huge pile of facts and figures for your presentation, but chop down the pile relentlessly until every piece of material sticks to the spine of your main takeaway, until they all fit into your organizational structure, and are relevant to your audience’s knowledge level and needs.

Author: admin

Carl Hausman is Professor of Journalism at Rowan University, the author of several books about media, and a commentator about the role of media and ethics in civic life.

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