Eliminate the Excess

Some people share too much information. Do you ever find yourself sharing too many details?

Even the smartest people I know can get caught up sharing the minutiae of a

situation. Here is an example of what a minutiae talker sounds like:

“Last year I was in California, I think it was Northern California, actually…I was on school vacation and my friend and I wanted an adventure, but we couldn’t decide where to go. Should we head to the beach or the mountains? We finally decided to head north to a music festival we heard about. Anyway, as I drove along I realized that a tire was going flat…Wait, I wasn’t driving, I was a passenger. Max was driving, but I am the one who knows about cars…So I started to change the tire, and that’s when the snake bit me.”

Ah, there it is, he was bit by a snake! Finally!

Rather than getting us right into the action of a story, we get all sorts of information that doesn’t really matter. It’s mind numbing.


This detail-oriented speaking approach is exhausting for the listener. The audience needs to work way too hard to understand what the speaker is getting at.

Is this a story about California? A road trip? A music festival? Cars? It takes too long for us to learn that it’s about a snake bite.

The subconscious mind is always organizing and making sense of information. When we ask our listeners to endure too much random information, they begin to tune out.

The Solution is to boil down the message to the essence: what really matters.

Bill McGowan, author of Pitch Perfect: How to Say it Right, The First Time, Every Time, has coined the term:

The Pasta-Sauce Principle

“Cure boredom by boiling down your message, making it as rich and brief as possible. When in doubt, cut more out. If people want more, they’ll ask for seconds.”

Let try the snake story again – applying the Pasta Principle:

“Last summer I came face to face with a poisonous snake. I was on a road trip with my buddy Max, when we felt the tire going flat. As I crouched down beside the car to assess the damage, I saw black, shiny eyes. Before I could react, a snake lunged at my arm and took a bite. That’s when things got interesting…”


To keep your audience engaged, get to the good part as quickly as you can, and eliminate the excess.



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