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.
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.
Conveying your message in a short and sweet way cannot be overestimated. It makes you credible, authoritative, and highly persuasive.
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.
- Stop Over-Explaining. Have confidence that your message is understood. You don’t need to repeat yourself with different words.
- Speak in chunks of essential information. Make sure you’re delivering your message in bullet format. This will help you speak better in general.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
“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.”
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.
Let’s go through the above more thoroughly, shall we?
How to Be More Concise
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
“If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.”
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.