A Question From Our Viewing Audience
Last month’s post was about Getting Succinct, and long-time Marketing Executive Recruiter Erica Seidel responded, “Another post I would love to read is simply why people have a hard time being concise.” Great question, Erica. This is for you (and us, too).
Why Is It Hard?
It’s hard being concise because we think more is better. It’s hard because it takes confidence to stop sooner as opposed to later. It’s hard to let a drop of silence fall. It’s hard to think before we speak.
Family and Cultural Cues
Amazing how much of our learned communication behaviors are based on cues we’re not even aware of. Did you grow up in a family where it was difficult to be heard? Did you have to try harder; say more? Have you absorbed cultural cues about the appropriate necessity to speak up?
What Can We Do About It?
Changing habitual patterns is a 3-step process:
#1. Notice: First you have to become aware of what you’re doing. Are you using long run-on sentences? Do you keep on talking when you’re not sure what you want to say? Can you hear yourself meandering? Do you speak to fill up airtime?
#2. Cue: When you hear this happening, give yourself a negative cue. I can’t believe how long that sentence was. There I go, rambling again. Feels like I’m talking too much. I’m not making any sense. I don’t want to sound like this.
#3. Catch: After you notice yourself, and cue yourself negatively to stop the habit, try and deliberately catch yourself before it happens next time and substitute the new behavior.
Take A Beat
In theatre terms, a beat defines a change in the dynamics of a scene. So if you’re talking away and you stop to “take a beat,” to pause, this immediately signals a change in the dynamics of your presentation. Use the moment to regroup, change direction, gather your thoughts, come up with a key point, summarize. The key is to stop!
It provides a strong, yet subliminal, signal to your audience to listen differently. A beat may feel like forever to you, but it’s literally a heartbeat. A mini-second.
Strange as it may sound, it really boils down to trust. Trust your audience is smart enough and has gotten the point. Trust you have said it well enough. Trust you are allowed to let a second of silence fall. Trust you have permission to take a beat, showing your thoughtfulness. Trust takes confidence, and that’s where all of this really starts.
A Simple Hack: Go for One
One good verb or adjective or example can be just right. Powerful. It’s easy to get into the stylistic habit of using two or more, but do you really need to?
Which word would you choose, if you’re going for One?
We’ve developed and strengthened…
Our intent is to make our process transparent and helpful…
Do you really need multiple examples to make your point? Or can you go for One:
The best example of this approach is…
The most compelling argument for…
Too much diffuses your point, instead of strengthening it. You can quickly lose the very impact you’re trying to make. Edit like crazy in all your communications, both verbal and written.
Net It Down; Crisp It Up
An executive coaching client came up with this phrase as he experienced an Ahah! moment. I love it. I’ll be thinking of you, netting your words down, crisping them up and becoming super-concise. Yessss! Let me know how it’s going.
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