Why Too Much Data Can Be Bad

Seth Godin is the author of ten books about marketing, change and work that have been bestsellers around the world. His blog is one of my favourites. Below is a post that he wrote cautioning against the overuse of data. It is excellent advice for anyone making a presentation and complements my previous post with the quote by Margaret Thatcher.


Too much data leads to not enough belief

by Seth Godin

Business plans with too much detail, books with too much proof, politicians with too much granularity … it seems as though more data is a good thing, because data proves the case.

In my experience, data crowds out faith. And without faith, it’s hard to believe in the data enough to make a leap. Big mergers, big VC investments, big political movements, large congregations … they don’t usually turn out for a spreadsheet.

The problem is this: no spreadsheet, no bibliography and no list of resources is sufficient proof to someone who chooses not to believe. The skeptic will always find a reason, even if it’s one the rest of us don’t think is a good one. Relying too much on proof distracts you from the real mission – which is emotional connection.


About John Zimmer

International speaker, presentation skills expert, lawyer, improv performer
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3 Responses to Why Too Much Data Can Be Bad

  1. Kathy Reiffenstein says:

    This is such a great point, John. Data, proof statements, statistics all certainly have their place in a presentation, but there needs to be space for the passion, expertise and authenticity of the presenter to come through as well. And when there is too much data, this doesn’t happen.


  2. Jack Vincent says:

    John, thanks for a great post. We must be thinking in the same realm, because last week I posted similar thoughts to my blog, one in particular entitled “Simplicity Sells.”

    Even in complex deals, the reason for doing the deal must be simple. To get someone interested in moving forward, the simplest proposition is usually best… even if the resulting agreement is complex. Simple things drive us.

    Thanks for a great post! Jack

  3. As the saying goes “The Lady doth protest too much.”

    I’ve seen it often – giving too much info is as bad, if not worse than neglecting to include vital pieces of information.

    Connection is key – and that’s why I advocate communicating from “Authentic Voice”. When you do, it’s far more likely to reverberate with the right people, because the right people will understand, they’ll “get it”.

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