On a recent trip to Japan I took this photograph in the grounds of Kyoto’s Eikan-do Temple. It’s a typical Japanese scene, considered, peaceful, tranquil. What you can’t see is that the actual scene was anything but tranquil. There were hundreds (probably thousands) of people in the gardens. I was shoulder to shoulder with dozens of other people taking photographs, squeezed together on a parallel bridge, being buffeted by passers-by. I waited as people walked between the trees in my camera’s viewfinder until I could get a shot where they weren’t so obvious. I worked hard to keep the focus of the image on what I wanted to portray.
With business communication we also need to cut out the extraneous information. Then the person on the receiving end gets the focused message we want them to have. They get the right picture.
I work with a lot of people on their presentations. When I review their slides we almost always decide to cut back the amount of information they are showing because it is not focused on making their point. Unnecessary information gets included because “It might be useful, you never know…”, or because “It’s always in presentations like this” or because “It was already on the slide when I copied it from the other presentation.” Can you hear my teeth grinding?!
If you want someone to support your idea, you need to give them the information necessary to make a decision or take action - and nothing else. Don’t make them work hard to pick out what’s relevant and what isn’t. Don’t distract them. Show them the picture you want them to see. Hold your focus.