Details – if you’re a detail person like me, you know they are important. They will dog you if you don’t pay attention. But, how much is too much? When do you know you’ve done your due diligence and how do you know it’s time to edit? The funny thing about details is they can add value and overwhelm; lend to credibility and shut down the conversation altogether. You are probably not the one to see your own obsession with details as a negative, but it does help to have colleagues and friends to help you edit.
It’s good to know when to edit, so here are the top 5 signs that you’re too deep in the details:
- Your emails are more than 2 paragraphs long. Really, if your emails are any longer, you won’t get people to read them anyway so maybe choose another way to communicate this information. A memo? A conversation with a follow up in writing?
- Your hour-long presentation has more than 15 slides. More than this and you’ll have your audience wondering how long they will be held captive or you’ll be speed speaking your way through and lose them anyway. Plus you won’t have the crucial discussion time built in.
- Your slides in your presentation look more like paragraphs in a book than a nice visual and a thought to build on. Enough said.
- Your strategic overview has actual tactics detailed, when you’ve stated you’re just keeping it high level. You’ll lose credibility here and you will confuse people if your strategy is mixed up with tactics. Other than relevant examples of how you’ve accomplished your strategies (and maybe keep those in case studies), tactics should come later.
- Your instructions or directions or processes have so much detail that they confuse people. All of these need to lead people. Complete but concise is the ideal. Superfluous information will just make the steps more difficult to follow.
Visual cues are your best friend if you’re a detail person. One hopes for engagement and interaction with conversations or presentations in marketing, sales, and personal interactions. When you see faces glass over, you’re too deep in the details – time to pull up. When your audience looks at the time and toward the door, it’s time to check in with them. Details are a great thing, but I’ve learned, with a little help from my friends, that sometimes enough is enough.