Most people struggle to get to the point. Most people struggle with clarity and brevity. And this affliction is largely due to an inability to plan out the message, and prepare appropriately. Getting to the point quickly and clearly is not just a delivery technique. It is the output of organization and preparation.
However, on top of good preparation, there are a few delivery techniques that can help. Here are a few quick ideas for you to incorporate into your process:
Think of your message as your audience’s meal. Don’t try to cram the whole meal down their throats in one bite. Let them chew. Let them swallow. Let them prepare for the next bite. In other words, slow down. Pause. Allow them a moment between ideas to consider what you are saying, before you sprint off to the next point.
Speak with periods, not commas. Try to avoid the long, run-on sentence groaning from the weight of multiple subordinate clauses. Try to speak in shorter, simpler sentences, with simple noun-verb-object construction. Try to speak in active voice, not passive. I am not saying “dumb it down.” I am suggesting that we speak in a way that makes it more likely our audience will be able to comprehend what we are talking about. If they have to work really hard to deconstruct our sentences, they will be missing the essence of our content.
Speak in bullet points. Whenever possible, try to place key messages or points into a short list, and then speak them as a list. “There are three things you need to remember here… one… two… three….” Or, “I achieved this by taking a few key steps … first… and then second…” When we speak this way we make it easier for people to remember the key messages. In addition, when we speak this way, anyone who was likely to take notes will pick up their pen at that moment and take notes. Why? Because you just made it easy for them to do so. You organized their notes for them. And the statistics are clear: once someone writes something down, their ability to remember it goes way up. This helps you control your audience’s takeaway.
Do you ever struggle with rambling? The cure for this affliction starts with thorough preparation. But then, on top of that preparation, these techniques will help. When we are able to get to the point quickly and clearly, people look at us differently. They “brand” us in their own minds as being organized, thoughtful, and strategic. Those are good things for you, and it is worth your time to acquire the ability to get to the point.