Get To The Point

Learn to communicate concisely

When it comes to exchanging information, time is truly a precious commodity, and people don’t have it to waste. Thus, aimless, long-winded soliloquies are definite communication faux pas. How can we learn to be concise in our communiqué?

The first step is to be mindful of talking too much, says Loren Ekroth, a specialist in human and business communication based in Las Vegas. Most of us easily discern when other people have a tendency to talk too much—their lips just keep on running and running. But “our own mistakes are so habitual, so well intentioned, they easily escape our notice,” he explains. Ekroth refers to this trend as blabber mouthing, and notes that those on the receiving end often tune out in frustration.

Carlos A. Austin, 32, agrees. “When I’m listening to someone tell a story, I have a propensity to focus in on the first and last 45 seconds of their presentation.” Austin, manager of local production and community service at WPIX-TV in New York, admits that in such cases, “the material in between gets diluted, but not lost.” Rather than cram everything into a never-ending stream of words, Austin says the speaker should “focus on the salient points” and allow the receiver to follow up with questions.

It’s best to summarize your main point or message in two or three concise sentences whenever possible. Ekroth suggests those who speak professionally—such as professors, clergy, speakers, and trainers—may have to work a little harder. “Let your social conversation be approximately equal in taking turns and using the time.” It’s all right to share what’s on your mind, just not every single thought.

QUICK TIPS FOREFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION
The Mens Sana Foundation (www.menssana.org), an Oakland, California-based nonprofit dedicated to clear thinking, offers these tips for efficient everyday communication:

  • Speak from experience. If you haven’t lived it, you’re not an expert in it.
  • Use everyday language. Avoid jargon, buzzwords, and clichés.
  • Don’t string arbitrary words together. Choose your words with care.
  • Avoid “everyone knows” statements. If it’s not a fact ,don’t treat it as one.
  • Check for understanding.If your message isn’t clear, your speaking is in vain.
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THE ART OF KEEPING IT SHORT AND SIMPLE
Della Menechella of Personal Peak Performance, an Edison, New Jersey-based speaking and training firm, gives three reasons why you should keep it short and simple (KISS) in your verbal communication:

  • Approximately 10% of the words we use get through to others.
  • A succinct message helps listeners better understand what we mean.
  • Using words that don’t require a dictionary to decipher are better for conveying a message.
  • Seek to be understood, not to impress. Put away your large vocabulary words.
  • Don’t parrot. Express your own thoughts and ideas,not those of others.
  • Be expressive. Everything you experience isn’t “great” or “fine.”
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