The TMI Trap

Hand holding megaphone
By Lynn Steffes, PT, DPT

What is TMI?

TMI is the acronym often used for “too much information.” Have you ever spent time in a professional or social situation where someone in the group had the tendency to share too much information, making everyone else feel uncomfortable or just plain uninterested? Most of us have cringed as the individual overshared.

Your marketing can be subject to TMI as well. Sharing your story or your information requires crafting messages that make the audience feel like their crucial questions have been answered; they have the sense of you and your story, or perhaps even better, are left wanting to know a bit more. The key word here is audience!

Who is the audience and what do they want/need to know?

Too often in our attempt to share our information we get caught up in telling details of our story that the “listener” isn’t the slightest bit interested in. I find myself guilty of this crime! As I am telling a story, fun facts bubble up that I find interesting but may be irrelevant and simply TMI for my audience. The result is they squirm or look away.

In marketing our services, I often see web pages with lengthy, detailed paragraphs of information provided where simple photos and a few key phrases would do. I review brochures with enough text to be a small reading assignment and social media posts that go on and on. Do your content-dense marketing materials make your audience squirm or look away?

How can we do better in crafting our delivery of key messages, information, and ideas without delivering TMI?

First of all, we can define our audience(s) and what is most important to them—and for them—to know, often asking ourselves the questions:

  • What are their pain points or worries?
  • What do they ultimately want from us? (which is not necessarily the same as what we want to tell them)
  • What might they need to know based on their specific needs?
  • How can we convey that information with photos, videos, graphics?
  • Can we add short concise paragraphs that appeal to the audience’s pain points?
  • Can we outline briefly or bullet point information that backs up what we are claiming?
  • And finally, can we use hyperlinks to enable those interested in learning more?

Second, we need to realize that marketing and advertising are ultimately about getting someone’s attention, stirring someone’s interest to learn more. It is about connecting with that individual—often first on an emotional level and sharing just enough of the story that they are left wanting more!

Finally, in an ideal world, marketing is truly a conversation, with the ability for the listener or the audience to interact or ask for more: by clicking through, requesting more, signing up for your blog or newsletter, following you on social media, or attending an event, screening, or other face-to-face interaction: ultimately, seeking your expertise and scheduling an appointment!

Avoid the TMI TRAP. Create a connection but don’t overshare so that you lose your audience.

Lynn Steffes

Lynn Steffes, PT, DPT, is president and consultant of Steffes & Associates, a national rehabilitation consulting group focused on marketing and program development for private practices nationwide. She is an instructor in five physical therapy programs and has actively presented, consulted, and taught in 40 states. She can be reached at

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