As an educator and advisor, the biggest risk you have when working with your clients is overwhelming them.
You have to simultaneously paint a picture of the big picture while keeping them focused on what they need to know and apply right now.
One way to do that is to have a documented methodology. I include mine in the Advisor OS, but essentially it’s a Trello board with a suite of options to be deployed during my engagements.
This allows me to show what’s possible but then reign in the focus to what’s most important now. It scratches the curiosity itch of my clients without making everything a priority.
Another way to reduce overwhelm when teaching or advising is to think in threes. I try to break down a lesson into three parts. And if needed, up to three sub-parts within each.
This framework focuses your teachings on what’s most important, eliminating everything else. Your students can typically recall three core ideas in a lesson. Overwhelm averted.
A third and final way to reduce overwhelm is to end each consulting call with a question: “what are you taking away from this discussion?”
When you ask this, it forces recall and a decision around what’s going to be done next. You can work together to make sure you’re aligned on the 1-3 most important things to take away and do.
Remember, overwhelmed people don’t act at all. We shut down, get stressed, and eventually, we start to feel resentful toward the people who inadvertently create that overwhelm.
1. Document your standard methodology and show it to clients when appropriate
2. Break teachings down into three parts when possible
3. Ask the focusing question: what are you taking away from this?
Overwhelm is a real thing, especially when teaching and advising.
Sometimes, less is more.