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? The way we convey our message is critical. And part of that is learning to be more concise when speaking.

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How To Be More Concise

5 Steps to Being More Concise when Speaking

  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.
  3. Eliminate phrases that don’t mean anything, like, “As I said before…” and “I just wanted to tell you…”
  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.
  5. Get to the point. Take minute details out of your message and bottom-line it for your listener.

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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 year 2020. This year is 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. 

We need to be concise because we need people to take us seriously and process our message comfortably. You can think of processing information as being on a spectrum of difficulty. When it’s very challenging to process a message, we 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.

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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.
  3. Eliminate meaningless phrases, like, “As I said before…” and “I just wanted to tell you…” 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.
  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. 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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Ever notice the person who doesn’t say much always appears so smart? 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.

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1 thought 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.

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