I recently attended a meeting in which the purpose was for the senior leader to listen to ideas of others on his proposal. Unfortunately, one person dominated the time with an endless flow of personal opinion. Because of this long windedness, others were unable to give their input. As the talkative member continued, I wondered how many times the senior leader tuned out of the discussion. I also wondered how many others wanted to say…Get to the point! ….And let someone else speak.
In his book BRIEF: Making a Bigger Impact by Saying Less, Joseph McCormack says getting to the point right away is crucial to attract the attention. Not only is attracting the attention important, but holding it is crucial. The consequences of not being brief can be severe. Rambling says “you’re not prepared”. Despite the many drawbacks of being long-winded, many of us struggle to be brief. One reason, explains McCormack, is because we believe by over-explaining, we can prove how smart we are
To practice being brief, McCormack suggests “mind mapping” to organize ideas before making a presentation or even writing an email. He proposes a map that uses the acronym BRIEF to simplify communication. At the center of the page, you put your headline. In the case of a meeting with the CEO to provide an input on a proposal, the headline may be “What I Want the CEO to Know & Remember.” The boxes surrounding the headline are:
B (Background): Provide a quick context—why am I offering my ideas?
R (Reason):: Explain why you’re speaking now—why should they pay attention?
I (Information):: Provide two to three key nuggets of information you want to share. What are the bullet points of the conversation?
E (End): Decide on what note you want to leave the conversation. In this case, you may want to end by telling the CEO which option is the best.
F (Follow-up):: Consider the questions you anticipate the CEO will ask you when you finish speaking and prepare answers in advance.
Practice simplifying your message. You will make an impact and your listener will appreciate your brevity. Brevity is an essential skill that can propel people’s career in an age where the people that they’re talking to are overwhelmed.