In the flood of information that we have to face every day, effective communication often means saying less to be heard better. We have all been in meetings where someone has rambled on, or a team leader over-explains things, or receive lengthy emails that have no substance. The reason that saying more doesn’t help effective communication is that important facts are lost in a sea of words.
You have heard the expression that “less is more”. That is certainly true when it comes to the length of time you have to speak to get yourself heard. The importance of saying less to communicate effectively is highlighted when you consider the consequences of saying too much.
For example, if you have to make a sales pitch to prospective customers, you can end up talking yourself out of a deal by talking too much. Saying less and allowing clients to ask questions stirs up interest and you can focus on communicating important facts.
In another situation, if you are in a job interview and you start rambling on to answer a question, your potential employer may think you’re not prepared. In a worst-case scenario, he or she may just switch off and stop listening.
How can you communicate more efficiently by using fewer words and getting to the point? Many business leaders promote the principle of being B.R.I.E.F. How can this acronym help with communicating better?
Let’s look in more detail at being B.R.I.E.F.
The first 2 steps help to get your listeners prepared to what they are going to hear. You just have to mention in one or two sentences the purpose of your speech.
It’s clear that effective communication requires good preparation with nothing being left to chance. For example, when delivering your information on the subject, if you don’t have your main points clear in mind, you may start giving longwinded explanations or, worse still, start repeating yourself.
Many who have attended job interviews, have to deliver a speech, or speak during a boardroom meeting make the mistake of not preparing a conclusion. However, the way you end your speech requires just as much preparation as the body of it. The conclusion should focus on one or two benefits of what you have just said.
The follow-up also requires some preparation. You should try and anticipate potential questions and then prepare short and to-the-point answers.
Obviously the less you speak the more opportunity you have to listen to what others have to say. This is very important in one-to-one conversations and when you attend meetings or have to answer questions.
Let’s look at some of the benefits improving communication by being a better and more active listener.