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The Power of Getting to The Point

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Efficient communication is a necessity. Here’s how to make your message more concise and compelling.

The truth is, we use too many words to get our point across. I hate that it’s true, but in the age of information, talking more doesn’t get our point across. Instead, it hinders us.

Everyone’s had that painfully long meeting where you’re falling asleep as the unaware speaker drones on. It’s painful. And I regret to say we’ve all contributed to that problem.

One of my primary duties as a professional coach is public speaking. I get paid to travel to onsite meetings with companies who’ve hired me to help their teams achieve organizational success, so trust me when I say this topic makes me, of all people, pretty uncomfortable.

But when I ran across this realization, something clicked.

Author of Your Brain at Work and co-founder of The NeuroLeadership Institute David Rock, shared a shocking realization that after studying thousands of people at work, he concluded that most are only focused for 6 hours a week.

Considering the average work week is 40 hours, that number is appalling. This would mean that the average worker is only ever focused 15 percent of the time in the span of a work week.

Let that sink in.

We could blame that on people being lazy, social-media addicted, or in the wrong career, but what I realized is we as leaders have got to take a different approach.

We need to cut through the noise.

According to a Nielsen report from 2016, “U.S. adults spend 10 hours and 39 minutes a day consuming media.” This includes everything from Internet usage to mobile apps, live TV, video games, radio, and everything in between. And that number increased a full hour from the previous year, which is quite a leap.

If the brains of our staff are already swamped with information - how do we reach them? I recommend we learn to be clear and succinct when we communicate, so they aren’t fighting the impulse to check out.

Prepare for success.

Staying concise means sticking to a plan with how we speak. Many of the wordiest communicators ramble because they frankly are just not prepared. Prepare for meetings and talks by creating a short outline. Insert a story or metaphor to spice up your presentation and be brief, be clear and be done! People appreciate when their time is respected and you’ve prepared to communicate effectively with efficiency.

Author Joseph McCormack of “Brief: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less” says this about brevity: "Think and speak in headlines."

Skip the qualifying statements and invite questions.

Hearing a bunch of qualifying statements like “What I’m saying is this, but what I’m not saying is this” kills engagement, and undermines confidence in your message.

Say what you mean, and it if it requires further explanation, invite questions for clarification at the end of your presentation. Be careful you don’t tire your audience by having them pick through your talk to get the main points.

Avoid the “shotgun” approach of communication—blasting all of your thoughts into the open without a clear message or point.

For those of us who are verbal processors, this is hard. There’s a time and a place for unmeasured, creative brainstorming that doesn’t deal with the time constraints of a formal meeting, but save the shotgun style of communication for those times. If you don’t know what you think until it’s out in the open in conversation, spend time talking to a colleague who can help you summarize your thoughts. Outline your key points and how you’ll deliver them. This extra step will help you get to the point much faster.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that brevity isn’t just about taking less time when speaking; it’s about having a greater impact on people’s lives. When we give our people something inspirational to think about in a way that captures their attention, we win as leaders.

Let’s help our workforce stay engaged in our meetings and presentations by delivering clear, concise and compelling content.

To your effectiveness in communication,
Coach Greg

 

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