Monday, January 19, 2015

Be Brief: Your Audience will Thank You!

Brevity takes work.  Perhaps that's why so few seem to do it.  Either that or people just like to hear
themselves speak which, unfortunately, is a little more accurate than perhaps we'd care to admit. The truth is though, we can make a powerful, positive and lasting impression on others by simply telling them what they need to know, not everything we want to tell them.

Our objective, in any communication, is not to share everything that we know but to share what our audience needs and is interested in hearing.  It therefore requires more effort and focus on our part, to consider the needs of our audience and to use it to determine what information we posses is relevant and to simply share that.  The information we share will therefore vary by audience and by situation.  One may call for more detail and the other less.  It becomes our responsibility to pay attention to what information will serve our audience best.

In his book Brief: Making a Bigger Impact by Saying Less, author Joseph McCormack shares that there are 3 levels of detail to any story we share.

  1. 1st Level Details:  These are the details and information that are central to your communication and important for your audience to hear (focus on these!)
  2. 2nd Level Details:  Are those details that add colour and often a bit more clarity, but that aren't critical components of the message itself
  3. 3rd Level Details:  Are accurate pieces of information but they do little to enhance the communication itself or the understanding of your audience
Level one represents the important and primary components of your communications.  As for the other two levels?  Be judicious in your use of 2nd level details and avoid using level 3 at all.  

The more that we talk, the more that the conversation becomes about us, whether it's our self-focus, our nervousness and discomfort, our lack of confidence or perhaps even our actual lack of understanding of the topic itself.  Sometimes by trying to share everything we know we actually highlight the reverse.  
The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending, and to have the two as close together as possible.      George Burns
What you are sharing with others should be of interest and importance to them.  Don't make them work for it, either by waiting for it or having to weed through extraneous information.  Choose to demonstrate your respect for your audience by putting their needs above your own.  Use their reactions as a gauge to determine how well you are addressing those needs.  Yawns and shifting in their seats are generally good indicators that you have gone on too long and overstated your case.

Think about what your audience needs to know.  Say it.  Sit down.

Enough said.

(for those that would like to check out 'Brief' for themselves here's a link you can use to purchase your copy)

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