Stakeholder overwhelm is a real thing. You can't expect your stakeholders to know everything you know about your field, and they don't expect you to know everything they know either.

It's important to be able to read your stakeholder's body language and adjust accordingly, though—you want to make sure that you're giving them just enough information so that they can understand what you're talking about, but not so much that it's overwhelming.


Here are some ways you can keep yourself from overwhelming stakeholders by giving them too much information:

  1. Don't assume that your stakeholder knows anything about what you do for a living. If there are terms or concepts that might be unfamiliar, explain them in plain language before moving on to other topics.
  2. Ask questions about the stakeholder's experience with similar topics so that you can gauge what level of detail and depth is needed for their particular situation. If they've never done this before, then obviously don't go into too much depth and provide the stakeholder with the information they need to make a decision.
  3. If it seems like they're having trouble following along with something, try slowing down or simplifying the explanation a bit.
  4. Be sure to explain the details in an easy-to-understand manner so that the stakeholder does not have to read through an entire document just for one piece of information.

Dialogue Examples

Example 1

Stakeholder: What do you mean by "routes?"

Freelancer: Well, I'm not sure if that's the best word to use. It's the way the data travels from point A to point B. You might have heard of something called a route before—it's like a path that you take when you're trying to get somewhere. So if you want to go from your house to the grocery store, there are probably multiple ways that you can get there. You could drive, walk, or ride your bike—there are many different routes that will get you where you need to go. But each route has its own pros and cons, depending on what kind of transportation you want and how quickly it takes you there. And some routes are better than others for certain things.

Stakeholder: Okay… so what does this have to do with my project?

Freelancer: Well, when we talk about routes in programming, we're usually talking about how data travels from one place (like a user) through the network (like their computer) and then reaches its destination (like an application). The longer it takes for data to travel between these different points—and more importantly for our project.

Example 2

Stakeholder: I'm looking for someone to help me write the script for my next video.

Freelancer: Great! What type of video are you hoping to make?

Stakeholder: Well, I have some ideas in mind, but nothing concrete yet. It's going to be a tutorial on how to make a YouTube channel and then how to profit from it once it's built.

Freelancer: That sounds like a great idea! Have you ever made a YouTube channel before? Do you have any experience with this topic?

Stakeholder: Not really. I've never made a YouTube channel before, but since I know that lots of people watch videos on YouTube all the time, I figured it would be something worth knowing about. And I've done some research about how people can make money from their channels—they use ads and stuff, right? So I think it'd be good if we could talk about that too. Maybe even include some examples of how others have done it successfully.

Freelancer: That sounds like a great plan! But first, let's get started on the script itself—what format did you want it in (eBook/PDF/etc.)?