All of us are being bombarded by so much information and data that we can barely keep up. If we want to be able to influence more effectively, we need to be able to do it concisely. Bonni and I discuss strategies for making this happen.
Mark Twain received the following telegram from a publisher:
NEED 2-PAGE SHORT STORY TWO DAYS.
And famously replied…
NO CAN DO 2 PAGES TWO DAYS. CAN DO 30 PAGES 2 DAYS. NEED 30 DAYS TO DO 2 PAGES.
In his book Information Anxiety, Richard Saul Wurman states that a standard issue of the New York Times contains more information than a citizen of 17th England would have absorbed in their entire lifetime.
- Many people will tune us out when we are not concise.
- People stop taking calls or are often “unavailable” from people who can't be concise.
- Lots of people will stop seeking advice from someone who can't give it concisely.
- We don't have credibility with most audiences if we can't communicate what we know concisely.
What are the causes?
- For many of my clients, their technical training works against them in communicating concisely.
- People believe (falsely) that they are more credible the longer they speak. Not true…it's about quality, not quantity.
- The “PowerPoint culture” in many organizations has reinforced the myth that more information in slides is better when presentation information. Most of the time, it's not – less is more.
- Since making something concise takes time and investment, some of us simply just don't want to do it out of laziness…even when we know it would help the audience.
- Selfishness sometimes creeps in – we like to hear ourselves talk and we forget that our purpose is to add value for the audience, not to look good ourselves.
What are the solutions?
- Ask yourself if what you are about the communicate is really essential to the overall message?
- If you put yourself in the audience's shows, would you really care about what it is you are about to say?
- Have someone you trust who knows your audience listen to what you are going to say before you get in front of your manager, a meeting, or a large presentation.
- Budget time to edit down what you are saying to make it more concise.
Suggestions for implementation:
- Have firm standards on your conciseness and stick to them…
- As an example, this show is almost always 40 minutes or less.
- My weekly articles are 500 words or less
- Join Toastmasters and get practice speaking concisely
- Attend the Dale Carnegie Course and learn and use many models to get ideas across quickly.
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Wherever you are in the world, whatever is on your agenda today, take one idea from this show to engage and develop someone you lead.