Would You Just Get To The Point?

True confessions: my family and more honest friends and colleagues would likely say that I have a tendency to talk around a point for way too long, instead of cutting quickly to the bottom line. Many of us tend to talk out our thoughts at the same time our internal search engines are trying to zero in on the essence of what we really want to say.

Expressed more succinctly — we use lots more words than needed to make our point.

With that as backdrop, I found the segment on succinctness in David Rock’s Quiet Leadership book particularly compelling. Could this old dog learn new ways to be more economical and powerful with the words I use in conversations?

The advantages of being succinct are obvious.

  • It saves time and mental energy for both the speaker and listener.
  • Focused communicators get to the core of their message more quickly and clearly.
  • Listeners can process smaller bits of information more effectively, rather than having to digest a huge amount of ideas at one time.
  • It’s easier to capture and keep the listener’s attention.

No wonder Twitter with its limited characters is so popular!

Knowing how the brain understands and learns provides clues about how to be succinct, yet still effective. Rock explains that it helps to frame our ideas in ways that enable our listeners to generate maps or visuals in their mind. As they compare those with their existing maps, their brains create and strengthen connections. It’s an efficient way to facilitate insight and understanding.

What are some specific steps to take to become a more succinct communicator?

  • Invest some energy upfront – before talking, think about and decide quickly what you want to say.
  • Make a mental picture in your mind of the idea you want to communicate.
  • Use visual words and metaphors to get your mental picture across to the listener.  (The brain typically processes visual information quicker than data through most other senses, so helping your listener form visual mental maps means faster information sharing.)
  • Use as few words as possible.
  • Allow pauses in conversations to enable thinking time.

Be sure to check out my colleague Marta Steele’s tips for whittling down those extraneous words in written communication.

So, in the spirit of succinctness . . . I’m thinking you probably have enough knowledge now to try it out and see what happens.

Elise Cary is a partner with PeopleResults. You can reach her at ecary@www.people-results.com or Twitter @EliseCary.  Sign up to receive the PeopleResults blog at Current.