Steps to Management Success – Step 56: Keep It Short and Sweet

Written By Rick Frishman Published April 1st, 2010


Keep It Short and Sweet

If you do a Google search for job interview tips, the advice to not ramble will pop up time and time again—but it’s not just good advice for interviews. It’s applicable to the rest of your professional life as well.

WHAT IT MEANS: In two words: don’t ramble. Answer the question, or make your point, clearly and succinctly—and then stop. Overlong, rambling answers can make you sound apologetic, nervous, or indecisive. It’s better to leave them wanting more than wishing you had talked less.

ACTION PLAN: Familiarizing yourself as much as possible with your speech (or the remarks you intend to make) will help keep you from getting off track. Be sensitive to the notion of providing too much information. If people want to know additional details, they will ask. Above all, avoid the tendency to repeat yourself—that’s when you’ll start to lose your audience. As a favorite public speaker of mine says, “If you don’t strike oil after twenty minutes, stop boring!”

EVEN BETTER: Most of us have a natural fear of “dead air”—that uncomfortable silence in the room (even in a one-to-one conversation) after we have said something. That’s why many of us try to fill it with words. The best way to overcome your discomfort with dead air is to practice—and to become more comfortable with the silent gaps in conversation. Believe it or not, it will make you appear more thoughtful, more serious, and more in control. Hey, it worked during the job interview, didn’t it?

(Excerpted from: 10 Clowns Don’t Make a Circus. . . and 249 Other Critical Management Success Strategies by Steven Schragis and Rick Frishman)

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