- Next trainer development cohort 23rd - 27th September 2024

How to avoid the dastardly info dump

17th September, 2021

How to avoid the dastardly info dump

Halfway there, I had a change of heart.


What are they going to do with the puzzle with a piece missing?  The teapot that won’t keep the tea warm.  And the otter?  Good luck selling that.


I started with good intentions, I promise.


I was doing a big clutter clear out at home (one of those ones where you created more mess than you solve and want to cry half way through).  But I got there in the end and diligently divided up the stuff to be thrown out into three big piles.


  1. For the dump: broken trampoline; rusty frying pan.
  2. To offer friends/family/neighbours: ‘Smelvig’ IKEA side table; kids’ clothes and toys.
  3. For the charity shop: holiday paperbacks; jigsaw with missing piece, lidless teapot; dusty faux cheeseplant; hideous but well-meant china otter given to me by a relative who’s thankfully unlikely to ever visit my home.


I packed everything into black sacks and off I drove.


But on the way it dawned on me: I was just going to dump a load of worthless rubbish on our poor charity shop.  Apart from the paperbacks, everything was completely unsellable.  


I was charity dumping and running.  All because I couldn’t be bothered to figure out how to get rid of this random collection of stuff in an eco-friendly way. After all the clearing, sorting and crying, it’d just felt too hard.


And just last week I was speaking to my client, Will, who was dumping and running too.  But this time he was guilty of an info dump.


When I asked him why he was dumping so much data and information on his colleagues, he said: ‘I just don’t have the time or the energy to filter the information.’  


(Clear-out-Kim, sat on the floor surrounded by cheeseplants, black sacks and despair, could totally relate.) 


And with a bit more probing, we got to the real reason for his info dumping: 


‘I don’t always feel confident to know what’s most important so I just put everything in to cover my back.’




Listen we’ve all been tempted to info dump like Will.  We’re all busy.  We’re all tired.  Filtering is hard.  


But normally it goes deeper than that: we don’t know what’s most important to our audience.  We haven’t thought about their wants and needs enough.  


We don’t know what we want them to do next and what information is going to help them do that (and what’s just filler or misdirection).


What’s hard for us to write is easy for people to read and act on.  And vice versa.


So let’s make a pact: no more dumping and running.  A little more work for us makes life easier for everyone else (especially charity shops). Which is better for us too in the long run.

University of Cambridge


- Next trainer development cohort 23rd - 27th September 2024

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