How to Master the Art of Concise Communication
It has been said that “the most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do”. Being able to communicate concisely is an important skill, and one that requires conscious effort to master. With this in mind, here are ways that you can become a more confident and concise communicator.
Listen More Than You Speak
Sometimes when we get carried away in conversation, it’s because we were also carried away when the other person was speaking. When you fail to listen effectively, it increases the likelihood that you will misunderstand the message, leading to a breakdown in communication.
Learn to pause and listen carefully in conversations. By doing so you will gain a better understanding of what the other person thinks and already knows. As a result, you will be able stay on track and avoid rambling away on issues that have already been addressed. Understanding the other person’s perspective also equips you to tailor the size and depth of your message to their needs.
Extract the Key Takeaway
Ask yourself the question: if my listener only remembers one thing that I’m saying, what do I want them to remember? Starting with this question in mind will have a powerful effect on the way you communicate as the conversation progresses.
The reality is that people today have short attention spans, so you need to condense your message into consumable chunks, rather than cramming as much information in as possible. You can also modulate (or vary) the pitch, power, and pace of your speech to separate the highlights of your message from supporting information.
Show, Don’t Tell
If you analyze the most popular personal development books, you’ll notice the effective way that they’re able to convey a wealth of information without overwhelming the reader. A key strategy that’s often utilized is storytelling. Authors will use personal experiences and stories to demonstrate key concepts, especially those that are abstract and may otherwise be hard to convey.
Stories help us get the point quickly, because they show rather than tell. If you are able to identify relevant examples to support your message, you’ll be able to communicate more concisely and help your listener get to the heart of the topic.
Learn to Ruthlessly Edit Your Work
Editing and proofreading are essential activities that enhance your work and the clarity of your ideas. Try to approach every piece of writing you do with an editor’s mindset. Aim to continuously improve - and never settle for less. When you edit, reread your draft to check for significant issues and work on the organization, paragraph structure, and content of your piece.
Though it can seem daunting to go back and scrap sentences that may have taken you ages to write, the effort involved in editing will pay off in the end. It will make your writing appear more professional and polished. Moreover, once you get into the habit of always editing your work, you’ll wonder how you got away without doing it before!
Perfect Your Elevator Pitch
How do you typically introduce yourself to new acquaintances? Your personal elevator pitch is the way you tell people about yourself and what you do. The idea is that it should be short enough to present during a brief elevator ride. Many people tend to ramble when introducing themselves, so perfecting your elevator pitch can set you apart and boost your credibility in the minds of potential employers and business partners.
Aim to keep your pitch between 30-60 seconds. Your speech should explain who you are and any relevant skills and qualifications you have. A good elevator pitch provides an accurate overview of your background and what you do, and is compelling enough to spark the listener’s interest.
By concentrating on a few key areas, you can become a more efficient and effective communicator. Over time, this skill will allow you to powerfully convey your ideas, with relatively little effort or hesitation. As you become a better listener, you’ll also be able to establish stronger connections with others, bringing light to the issues that mean the most to them.