Coaching Icon copyJonas was attempting to persuade Marianne. Marianne was very convincingly role-playing a very senior leader in an Influencing Skills Masterclass. It was clear that Jonas wasn’t succeeding.

The group’s consensus on the problem? The senior leader used crisp, succinct language but Jonas waffled.

Kirsten Campbell and Will Sudworth provide 8 top tips on how to develop the habit of being verbally crisp and succinct.

Why does it matter?

The world-renowned influencing expert, Dr Robert Cialdini, explained it this way in his best-selling book, “Few people would be surprised to learn that, as a rule, we most prefer to say yes to the requests of someone we know and like.” He goes on to add “We like people who are similar to us”.

Quite simply, the senior leader who speaks succinctly listens more readily to others who are also succinct.

So how can we build succinct habits?

In researching this topic, we found lots of business writing courses encouraging us to be crisp and succinct but offering very little advice for conversations.

So here are the top eight red10 tips:

  1. Clarify your thinking with a buddy before talking to your senior stakeholder.
  1. Use a template to organise your thoughts, write them down beforehand, and aim to remember key phrases.
  1. When having the actual conversation, write down the key points you want to make, alongside your notes on what they are saying.
  1. Develop the habit of saying, “I have 3 main points, 1……, 2……, 3…… Would you like to know more?”
  1. Being crisp and succinct often comes more naturally to people with an Introversion preference (those people who tend to reflect and think things through before saying anything). It is more challenging for people with an Extraversion preference (those who tend to speak their thoughts out loud in order to know what they think!). Watch how others do it, especially Introverts like Hilary Clinton, Stephen Hawking or Bill Gates.

Here’s a quote from an Introvert (in Myers-Briggs terms, an INTJ) on communicating, “Time is a very valuable commodity. I like to get to the point as efficiently as possible. I dislike waffle. I begin with the end in mind when I communicate and take the most expedient route to get there. It’s most definitely not about the journey for me”.

  1. What might the main objections from your stakeholder be? Think these through beforehand and be prepared with options and potential solutions.
  1. Rehearse as though you were making a presentation. Get familiar with your key points and questions. Time your first attempts, review, refresh and renew until you are content that what you want to say is as sharp as you can make it.
  1. Make it interesting! The receiver is then more likely to be intrigued, engaged and give you their attention.

Kirsten Campbell recently interviewed a straight-talking client on this subject; here are some of his thoughts and recommendations:

“Depending on the scale of the situation, I write the key points and questions down on paper, either the night before or at least 5 to 10 minutes before the conversation starts.

I tend to use a condensed form of the pyramid principle (a methodology often used by consultants) to build the points up. This stops me from floating out in all kinds of unhelpful directions.

You will often hear me using statements like “let me break it down into 3 points. That’s the style clients’ like.”

Thor Olsen. Manager at Efficio

As always, we would love to hear your thoughts, views and experiences on this topic. Let us know how it goes as you try out combinations of all of the above.