“Be sincere; be brief; be seated” –Franklin D. Roosevelt
Effective communication means saying just enough—don’t talk too much or too little.
Try to convey your message in as few words as possible. Say what you want clearly and directly, whether you’re speaking to someone in person, on the phone, or via email. If you ramble on, your listener will either tune you out or will be unsure of exactly what you want.
Being AWARE of what type of communicator you are is critical.
Do you tend to say too much?
Remember when your teachers would require written essays to have a minimum word count? “Your essay must have a minimum of 1500 words.” So you would expand your writing to include as many words as possible in a sentence? The police officer said . . . would transform into: The brilliant, experienced police officer expressed his concern by uttering . . .
This was an excellent lesson in synonyms and expressive writing. However, you no longer have a minimum word requirement. Retrain your thinking if you tend to be long winded! Try reducing the number of words you use. Good rule of thumb – within a conversation, you should never be speaking longer than 30 seconds at a time. Get your communication partner to talk by asking an open ended question (e.g., “How do you like to reach out to potential clients?”).
Do you tend to say too little?
We all have people in our lives who don’t give enough information when they communicate. My mom often sends the most obscure texts. Here is an example:
I am so confused. What does 7:00 refer to? AM or PM? Is she doing something at 7:00 or am I? It is not in reference to any text above. When not enough information is given, communication is not streamlined and it requires additional back and forth questions/answers. P.S., after investigating, I found out that my mom wanted me to come over at 7:00 for dessert on Saint Patrick’s Day 🙂
Most messages should contain the 5 W’s
Who is the message about?
What is the main point of the message?
When will an event take place or due date of task?
Where are you meeting?
Why are you messaging someone?
Here is the body of a sample email:
When we do this demo we will lock this area for the rest of the night. What would be a good day and good time for us to be at your facility to perform our job? Please advise.
This message is clearly concise – it has all of the information needed. The WHO is the company writing the letter and the receiver of the message (“When we do this . . . at your facility”). The WHAT is the demo. The WHEN is a night that the demo needs to take place. The WHERE is your facility. The WHY is finding a good day/time to perform the job.
Do I say too much, too little, or just the right amount of words in my message?
Not sure? Do some investigating.
- Record yourself on a call with a client (*only record your end of the phone call unless you have permission from the other party) and listen to what you say and how long you speak.
- Ask a colleague, friend, or supervisor for feedback. “Are my messages clear? Do I need to add more information or be more concise?”
Increased knowledge and awareness plus practice, practice, practice creates new skills and competence. For more information on this subject, send me an email or give me a call.