How Much Of You Is Too Much?

Including some personal information is good, but can you include too much?
Including some personal information is good, but can you include too much?
Image Credit: Raul Pacheco-Vega

When we give a speech, one of our main goals is to find a way to use the importance of public speaking to connect with our audience. We want to open ourselves up to them and let them know that we are just like them. One way that speakers go about doing this is to include personal information in our speech. However, is it possible to include too much personal information?

It’s All About Sharing

When we want to connect with our audience, we look for ways to show that we both share the same things. We can be talking about an outlook on life, personal experiences, or perhaps what we are hoping will happen in the future. The way that we build these types of connections is by sharing our personal experiences with our audience in the hopes that they’ll connect with us. However, this carries with it some risk.

The challenge that we face when we decide to include some self-disclosure in a speech is that we may end up going too far. We can use self-disclosure to make a point with our audience; however, we can also quickly venture into uncharted territory. The question that we need to be asking ourselves is will including this level of personal details make the speech that we are telling better? It all comes down to content. Just exactly how much detail do we want to include in what we tell our audience. Is there a point where it becomes too much?

What we are trying to avoid here is what is referred to as “oversharing”. When this occurs, you’ve provided your audience with just a bit too much information about your personal story. Now instead of bonding with you, they are starting to squirm in their seats because they are feeling uncomfortable. Stories that contain medical details or conflicts with other people can cause this type of reaction. Likewise anything that you are sharing with your audience that will cause them to view you negatively after your speech is done would also fall into this category.

The Best Way To Self-Disclose

If we can all agree that there are dangers involved in disclosing too much to an audience, then we clearly need some guidance here. What is the best way to use our most personal of stories? One thing that we need to keep in mind when we are creating our speech is to make sure that the self-disclosure is placed in the right spot on our speech. You are going to want to find just the right spot where your audience will be ready to get this type of information.

One of the biggest problems that we can run in to is that we have a personal story that we want to share with our audience, but it doesn’t really relate to what we are talking about. If we’re not careful, we’ll try to find a way to shoehorn this story into our speech. You always want to make sure that your personal story is going to be relevant to the audience within the scope of your speech.

The style that you use to deliver your self-disclosure is going to be important also. You are going to want the style that you reveal yourself to your audience to match the style of your speech at the time that you choose to do so. Examples of this would be if your speech had hit a sad spot, then you would want to be appropriately sad while telling your story. Likewise, if you were happy at the time that you started to tell your story, then you’d want to be happy as you told your story.

What All Of This Means For You

Every time that we deliver a speech we want to make it the best speech possible. What this means is that we want to find a way to connect with our audience so that we’ll be able to share the benefits of public speaking and get our message across to them. One way to go about making this happen is to share a personal story with the audience. This is both powerful and fraught with risk.

The use of self-disclosure is designed to allow us to connect with our audience. Where we run into challenges is that we can sometimes go too far and share too much information with our audience. When we do this, we can make our audience become uncomfortable with what they are learning about us. The best way to go about sharing personal information with an audience is to make sure that we’ve placed the information in the right spot in our speech. We also want to make sure that the story will be relevant to our audience. When we share the information, we need to make sure that it is delivered in a style that will match what we are currently talking about.

Connecting with your audience is what every speaker wants to do. Using your personal stories to make this happen is something that only you can do – it will make your speech uniquely yours. However, we need to understand that there are limits to everything and so when you are in the process of sharing, you need to be careful to make sure that you don’t make a mistake and end up oversharing with your audience.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: When you are creating a speech, how can you determine if you are starting to share too much with your audience?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Communicator Blog is updated.
P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Communicator Newsletter are now available. Subscribe now: Click Here!
Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Congratulations on realizing the importance of public speaking and being a public speaker. No matter if you’ve only ever spoken in public once or if you’ve done it a 100 times, we can all become better. Every time that we give a speech, right after we are done we realize that there were things that we could have done differently that would have helped us to do a better job of connecting with our audience. In order to become better public speakers there are things that we need to do, but what are they?

Leave a Comment