The Big Lie, part 2

If you ever spoke to somebody with the intention of giving them “information,” let me give you a sobering statistic: studies show that no matter how much information you speak, the listener remembers the same amount.

In other words, it doesn’t matter whether you speak for 5 minutes of 5 hours, the listener remembers the same amount of information!

It doesn’t matter whether you give them 5 important details or 50 information gems–they will remember the same amount.

And it gets worse–well over HALF of the listeners will remember just two or fewer things!

In you haven’t read last week’s post, check it out now: The Big Lie, part 1

Once you have read last week’s post, let me reiterate the main point. The idea that you can communicate substantial information to people by speaking is a lie! You should always remember these two rules:



The curse of verbal information

People can only remember a limited amount of verbal information. That’s been proven over and over. The overwhelming majority of listeners remember just one or two things.

Sure, one person in the room might remember 10 things (probably because he wrote things down), but because every person has a limit, you know one thing is sure:

The more information you present, the less control you have over the impression you make!

informationLet me explain.

If you speak for 15 minutes and give just one tidbit of information, the listener has only one choice, remember the one thing, or remember nothing.

If you give the listener a 12 step program, and the average listener remembers just 2 steps, how much control do you have? NONE!

Even if the listener remember 5 things, you don’t know which of the 12 steps they will be! You essentially give up control, and the listener because just as likely to remember the least important point as the most important one.

So I repeat:

The more information you present, the less control you have over the impression you make!

Information in Politics

randpaulYou want simple proof. Look at the recent Republican presidential primary elections.

There are some candidates that love to give long discourses on facts and information. The king of information on the Republican side was Rand Paul, and he never earned more than 9% support in any poll (usually less than 5%).

Donald Trump gets criticized more than any other candidate for never having any substance (information) and yet he’s winning. It’s not an accident. Trump is a persuasive genius, and he’s withholding information on purpose!

Every time you see a focus group on TV, the “concerned citizens” will always declare that they want the presidential candidates to argue on substance (information). This is a total LIE!

These honest citizens don’t know it’s a lie. The lie is not that people think they want information. They really do think they want information–because we’ve been taught that information makes as informed voters.

The lie is that information persuades you to change your mind. Information is only the rational mind’s excuse. Read this post for an explanation of why you shouldn’t believe that “explanation.” You shouldn’t believe explanations, you should believe results–Trump is winning, Paul had to bow out.

Honestly, every Republican candidate agrees on 80% of the “information.”

If the rational mind mattered most, the candidate who presented the information the best would win. You and I both know that the candidate with endless information puts everybody to sleep and loses every time!

Use LESS information

lessOf course I’m not asking you to avoid information. I’m merely trying to persuade you that you’ll be a better presenter and a better speaker when you use less information.

My wife teaches public school. On a regular basis she comes home exasperated. The story generally goes like this: I explained the assignment clearly. I gave them clear 3 steps. I repeated it twice, yet 5 minutes later 80 percent of the students come up and ask me “what am I supposed to do?”


I remind her every time of the big lie: “You can’t present information verbally!”

Whether you like it or not, when you present verbally, you must start with the assumption the nobody is listening! It’s not necessarily that they don’t want to listen, it’s that everybody has a physical limit on what they can learn verbally.

If you are a teacher, and your job is to teach INFORMATION, you have only one option:


The teacher can write it, or better yet, make the students write it!

For everybody else, your goal should be to INTERACT in the way that makes the right IMPRESSION.

My SpeechDeck communication system is all about making that impression stick!

< Continue to part 3 >

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