How to Become More Concise

Speaking concisely is a challenge I often see with clients.

This is largely because they have so much information to convey in a very limited amount of time.

An important client or senior manager is very short on time, and has a limited attention span. You have to be able to get your point across quickly and effectively.

Here are two simple ways to get more concise in your speaking.

Both are for building spontaneous concision: the kind you use in free-flowing meetings, Q&As after presentations, and on-the-fly interactions with decision makers.

The Read and Speak Exercise

Read a news article or report related to your industry. Then give a short summary on what you just read. Either time yourself or have a friend time you.

Depending on how concise you are trying to be, you can shoot for 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 30 seconds, 60 seconds, or another length of time.

You do well if you can speak coherently while including all important information from the article, within the time limit.

It’s important that you use a new article each time you repeat this exercise–something you have never seen before.

This is because you are training your ability to quickly process and speak about new information. If you use an article you have already read multiple times, or are very familiar with, then you are not forcing your brain to process information and form words quickly.

The Listen and Speak Exercise

Have a friend or colleague (or a coach) pepper you with a series of questions or statements. Your job is to answer or respond to each, in turn, within 10 seconds, 30 seconds, or 60 seconds.

Your partner’s questions or statements should be novel and unexpected, preventing you from planning ahead of time.

Again, you must form complete sentences and cover all of the important points about each topic.

Remember, for both exercises, your sentences don’t have to be grammatically perfect. Sometimes using bullet points or fragments is the best way to quickly convey information.

The first exercise is for training recall and quickly processing reading material. And the second exercise is more focused on conversational/ social reaction time.

The more you repeat these exercises, the better you will get.

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