How to Communicate Clearly and Concisely

Few have the courage to communicate a message succinctly

Few have the courage to communicate a message succinctly

Today I was coaching someone who wanted to improve his communication style. He wanted to communicate more succinctly. I decided to write this blog post to offer some helpful suggestions.

First, let me make a case for succinct communications.

Albert Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain something simply, you probably don’t understand it well.”

According to the Associated Press, the average attention span of people in 2012 was 12 seconds.

We have fast food and drive through churches. My God!

As Stephen Wright the comedian once said, “I put instant coffee in the microwave….I almost went back in time.”

Most people today get more information in one day than a 16th century peasant got in an entire lifetime. It’s information overload! So when you speak, be clear and concise.

Edward Everett orated for two hours at Gettysburg; Lincoln talked for two minutes. Hopefully by now you are convinced. Now let’s examine the skills of an effective succinct communicator.

1. Think about what you are going to say before you say it.

2. Practice saying things with fewer words.

3. Look for ways to make your message memorable.

“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

Instead of, ”Don’t misunderstand the role of being an American citizen. You can’t sit back while your government works to make you secure. You have to step up to the plate, be proactive and support the whole. We’re counting on you, and we’re in this together….or else.”

Examine the book, Made to Stick.

The characteristics of stickiness include: simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, and full of stories.

4. Imagine 4 bullet points on a slide that fall into categories such as issue/challenge, recommendation, and what I need.

5. Always know Three Basic Principles:

Know what you want.
Know who can give it to you.
Know how to get it.

These 3 principles came from a book called How to Get Your Point Across in 30 Seconds or Less.

6. Before your begin talking, ask a question which eliminates half of what you need to talk about.

7. Don’t be afraid to pause.

8. Listen well.

There is no credibility in your prescription unless there is credibility in the diagnosis.

9. Ensure understanding.

But, don’t say…..”Do you understand what I’m saying?” The number one answer to that is a “Yes.” They are bluffing….they haven’t even heard your long boring oration! Instead say, “Sometimes I realize that I’m not as clear as I’d like to be…..What is your understanding of our agreements?”

10. Focus on the things that you can change.

Never allow the things that you can do nothing about to distract you from the things that you can do a great deal about. A lot of wasted communication targets things that we can’t change. Don’t be that guy!

There you have it. My top 10 list of ways to communicate clearly and concisely.

What ideas do you have? Please include them in the comments.

If you would like coaching on your development needs, contact me.

About Dale Perryman

Conduct workshops and seminars on leadership, management, and employee development. Founder of Center for Organizational Learning. Co-founder and creator of MyMeetingPro, a suite of apps for iPhone and iPad that create simply effective meetings. Specialties include leading change, meeting facilitation, developing R&D leadership, merger integration, and social media marketing. Enjoy playing poker and stock investing in spare time.