Communication in the Information Overload Age

TV. Internet. Text messages. Movies. Billboards. Emails.

We are surrounded by incoming information at every turn. Silence is no longer something people seek to fill; it has become something people seek.

How then can you get your message heard amidst all the noise?

In my previous post, we learned that the first step is to know your message. What is it you want your audience to gain from your communication? You must focus on that key message or your effort will only add to the noise.

Competing Messages

If you don’t have a crystal-clear understanding of your message, how will your audience?

Keep focused on one clear idea to reduce distraction from competing messages. If you want to explain how to make a perfect cup of coffee, but you spend half your time talking about why coffee is better than tea, explaining the history of coffee and reminiscing about your grandmother’s favorite coffee cup, your audience is left confused.

If you want to talk about why coffee is better than tea, it somehow has to connect to your one clear idea: how to make a perfect cup of coffee.

Make sure any extra information supports your message rather than detracts from it.

Generally, you will want to stick to one to three points to support your overall message. The point of this post is “focus your message on one key idea.” Any words beyond that are to enhance the reader’s understanding and to make the idea more memorable. But everything points back to this theme: focus your message on one key idea.

Competing Attention

You are up against stiff competition when asking for someone’s attention. Your message has to be clear and compelling or you will lose your audience quickly and completely.

Whether writing or speaking, treat your audience’s time and attention with the respect and gratitude they deserve. They are giving you a portion of their lives and taking attention from many other interesting and important things. Acknowledge this by making it easy to understand your message.

If you make your audience work to understand your message or follow your line of thought, they will forget both your message and you. There are too many other places for people’s attention to go today. They don’t have time to waste on someone who cannot make their message clear.

Competing Priorities

Another reason it’s so important to keep your message clear and focused is the busyness of the average person today. You may have groundbreaking material but as soon as you’ve finished your message, the majority of your audience has to move on to the next thing on their schedules.

Focusing on one clear message throughout your communication makes it more likely that your audience will remember what you said after the rest of the day is over. If your only goal is to entertain, maybe this isn’t important to you.

But if you want your staff to remember the assignment, your reader to remember the lesson or the audience to remember your speech, you need to make sure your message is clear and understandable. It has to be able to stand up against everyone’s other priorities.


To cut through the noise, you need to know your message and focus your whole communication on that one message. There are competing messages, attention and priorities that demand you focus on one key idea if you want your message to be remembered.

For more information on how to develop a key idea, visit here.

Lisa Salinas is part of the GovLoop Featured Contributor program, where we feature articles by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Contributor posts, click here.

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Donna Villareal

Thanks for these reminders, Lisa. The link at the end for more information on how to develop a clear idea is not working right now.