how to be more concise when speaking

How to Be More Concise When Speaking-5 Actionable Steps

Have you ever listened to someone speak and have no clue what they are trying to say?

Worse, have you ever tried to tell your colleague an idea or your friend a funny thing that happened to you and have their eyes glaze over?

Or you’re at a meeting and you have a brilliant idea, you try to convey it and you keep saying the same thing over & over? It mostly happens in high-stakes situations and that’s when we need to be at our best. What gives? 

The way we convey our message is critical. And part of that is learning to be more concise when speaking. Learning how to use the fewest possible words to make it easier for people to process your speech and then, yes, follow your call to action.

Many people tell me that they feel like they should be done explaining, but they can’t help themselves but explain again in different ways. It’s so confusing for the listener! Some people don’t even know they’re over-explaining!

Then, of course, you know the times when you can be concise and awesome in comfy situations, but not so much when you’re making a report to your boss.

how to be more concise

 

Successful communicators speak concisely.

Successful communications are always succinct. You know the folks that get their point across quickly without confusion? Yup, they learned the techniques necessary to be concise.  

They learned how to speak up in meetings and how to refine their verbal brand.

They learned how to have executive presence and speak clearly and with authority and warmth.

Conveying your message in a short and sweet way cannot be overestimated. It makes you credible, authoritative, and highly persuasive.

how to be more concise

 

5 Steps to Being More Concise when Speaking

Here are your top 5 pro tips in a nutshell and I’ll explain them more thoroughly further along.

  1. Stop Over-Explaining. Have confidence that your message is understood. You don’t need to repeat yourself with different words.
     
  2. Speak in chunks of essential information. Make sure you’re delivering your message in bullet format. This will help you speak better in general.
     
  3. Eliminate phrases that don’t mean anything, like, “As I said before…” and “I just wanted to tell you…” and, of course, eliminate filler words.
     
  4. Practice and record yourself for a minute each day for a week. Then edit for brevity. Practice conveying your concise message into the recorder. Make sure you use an authoritative voice.
     
  5. Get to the point. Take minute details out of your message and bottom-line it for your listener. If you’re not concise people end up interrupted and micromanaging you.

You don’t have to do this training alone! We are here for you! Scroll down to the blue box at the bottom of the page to get right into the calendar for a free consultation! We’ll listen to you and give you direction. There are many options!

Why Must We Be Concise?

For one thing, our attention spans are getting shorter. It’s science. According to some statistics I found:

“They say that the average attention span is down from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to eight seconds now. That is less than the nine-second attention span of your average goldfish.”

That was from 2017. I’m willing to bet our attention spans have diminished quite a bit in the years 2020-21. This year’s been crazy! 

But it’s not just because people have short attention spans that we need to be concise. I mean, we do need to make sure that by the time we’ve reached the end of our soliloquy, people haven’t forgotten what we said at the beginning. 

What Crimes are Getting You Interrupted, Micromanaged, and Ignored?

Speak in chunks.

The way our brains process information is based on chunks of meaning. That’s why our sentences are broken down into phrases and clauses. And it’s best to verbally convey them broken into those segments.

 Learning how to speak clearly is integral to relationship building, getting a job, dating, absolutely anything that involves opening your mouth to speak.

If you want me to give you a two-hour presentation, I am ready today. If you want only a five-minute speech, it will take me two weeks to prepare.

Mark Twain

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We need to be concise because we need people to take us seriously and process our message comfortably. This is imperative if you need to be persuasive.

You can think of processing information as being on a spectrum of difficulty levels. When it’s very challenging to process a message, people tune out. The speaker has lost any chance of the listener following their call to action. 

The easier you make it for people to process your information, the easier it is for them to follow your call to action.

Get What You Want With More Persuasive Speaking

 

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Let’s go through the above more thoroughly, shall we?

How to Be More Concise

  1. Stop Overexplaining.

    We don’t need to deliver a message and then repeat it, just using different words. After you make a statement, stop speaking.

    We often think that we should talk in that formal way in which we write. In school, they encouraged very long essays for homework. Imagine if you could take the information in your 25-page paper and condense it into 1?

    Also, avoid redundancies, like “first draft” and “empty void.”

  2. Another way to be more concise is to speak in chunks or bullets. Eliminate the details and speak in “chunks” of essential information. Make sure you’re delivering your message in bullet format.

    If you have a meeting with your team or your client, be prepared with the important concepts you want to get across. Say them aloud. Make them your story. Make sure you’re using a magnetic voice.

  3. Eliminate meaningless phrases, like, “As I said before…” and “I just wanted to tell you…” “As I’ve said before…” can be quite insulting to your listener, indicating that you’ve been required to repeat yourself due to their inability to comprehend your message.

    Also, eliminate words that undermine you, like “just” and “actually.” Not only are they a waste of time, but they take away from your credibility. These are the things that cause you to be micromanaged and interrupted.

  4. Practice & Self Assess. You know I want you to record yourself! No super communicators have gotten there by wishing for it. They worked on it. Ramble on into the recorder for 30 seconds. Listen back and revise it on paper. Then, read your edited version aloud a few times into the recorder. At first, it will feel weird to be so brief, but it’ll start to come naturally.
     
  5. Get to the point.

    Take minute details out of your message and bottom-line it for your listener. When people listen to your story, they are drawing a picture in their minds. For your story or message to be successful, you need to allow them to focus on that picture.

    Not only are you trying to be less verbose, but you also want people to engage with you. And they can do so if you provide fewer details.

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“If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.”

-Abraham Lincoln

 

Concise Speech Makes You Credible and Magnetic

Did you ever notice the person who doesn’t say much always appears so smart? The person who waits for a few beats to answer a question seems as wise as a yogi? 

Then there’re the folks who jump to answer questions. They start so quickly, but they start with, “uh, well, I think…”

You don’t need to jump to answer questions quickly. Just take a moment to take a breath in and organize your thoughts for a second or two. 

While you’re waiting a beat and taking a breath in, your thoughts are working in the background organizing themselves into easily processed segments. Now you’re the yogi!

Being concise is imperative if you’re trying to get folks to see how intelligent and funny you are. 

Do you have any tips to be more concise? I want to hear your ideas. Please post them in the comments.

How to Improve Your Communication Skills at Work

14 thoughts on “How to Be More Concise When Speaking-5 Actionable Steps”

  1. Such a great article on how to improve my speech and sound better. I know I have a problem of over explaining and it was great to see some tips on how to speak in a more concise manner.

  2. I recently heard myself on a recorder and I was shocked and appalled! I basically said 1 thing 15 different ways all in the same conversation! It was like I wasn’t sure I was getting my point across! It was so embarrassing! I definitely do a lot of empty phrases, like “I just want to say…” That just makes me sound weak!

    I literally just searched “how to be more concise” and your article came up! It is blowing my mind! I have to speak in chunks. That makes sense. It’s something there’s a solution to! Thank you!

    1. Please don’t be hard on yourself. No one was born a perfect communicator! Just like every other skill in our lives, we have to work on communication skills to become proficient and successful at it.
      And nothing is more important!
      You’re at the beginning of a lovely journey! Reach out to me if you need help 🙂

  3. I am long winded because I believe others can’t understand what I’m saying. I over explain. These are really useful tips. Nothing beats clear communication. This is because the real essence of communication is to send a message across in a clear manner.

  4. Thanks, Ita! This is great material. I’m not very good at interviewing, mainly because I tend to ramble and overexplain. I want to learn to communicate in a more concise manner, both for interviews and in other business settings. I’m definitely willing to put in the work, but could use some guidance. Would you recommend your Voice Spa or Executive Communicator course if this is my primary goal?

    1. Hi Brian! First, know that you’re not alone! Many people have a tendency to overexplain. It’s one of the things I teach day in and day out!

      I would start with The Voice Spa. It will teach you specifically how to eliminate tension in your vocal mechanism as a learned behavior, how to formulate your ideas into concise “units of meaning,” and how to use a persuasive varied intonation pattern. (There’s more than that, of course!) The program is systematically done to become a habit in your life.

      Happy to hear you’re willing to put in the work, because, it requires time and determination. If you can set aside 10 minutes 2 or 3 times per day to do your assignments you should see significant improvement in a couple of weeks.
      The Executive Communicator is a bit more big picture and does benefit from having a Voice Spa background. Not necessary, but that’s the order I would recommend for you. The EC gives tips on having an executive presence, networking, and making small talk.

      All of the programs are for life and new videos are added frequently 🙂

      I’m here when you have questions! Good luck!

  5. My old boss told me I was too wordy and offered to get me training a few years ago. I never followed through with the training. I look back now and realize how much she tried to help me but I felt like she was attacking me. I was miserable and ended up losing that job. I’ve been searching for jobs and going on interviews but no success. Then I got an email from one of the companies that rejected me (I think I’ve gotten then before but I always ignored then) and I said yes. They told me that they never really got the point of what I was saying and that I need to be more succinct.
    I’m so mad at myself that I let this many years go by in misery when I could be a great speaker by now.

    1. It’s never too late, Jessie! You can start now. I’m here for you. Start with The Voice Spa, do all the homework (it’s not hard, only requires about 20 minutes per day, and you should be done in less than a month.)

      Then, if you want extra help, contact me! I’m here for you. Most people aren’t concise enough! You’re not alone!

  6. If I have a presentation, I usually practice it in front of my friends and family and then allow them to ask questions and give me feedback. This helps me highlight and refine the sections that are not clear and concise.

  7. That’s me! People give me the glaze over when I try to tell a story. Sometimes I get so flummoxed during professional situations I can’t seem to get to the point. Thank you for these great tips! I really never thought this was something I could change!

  8. Your tips are really helpful especially the one which said regarding over explaining I used to explain too much of stuffs which was not required as a result my content became oversize your tips help me a lot also I was not able to get a point out of it after reading your tips my content became better and concise thank you so much👍

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