"The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do."
In my last post, I introduced you to the “A” of the “ABC’s of Executive Speaking” framework– Authenticity. In this blog I will examine the “B” of the “ABC’s” - Brevity
My dad was a great speaker and successful executive. When I would listen to him speak, I remember being impressed by how he would say what he needed to, make his point and leave the impression he desired on his audience all without saying a lot or taking too much time to say it. I never saw him lose an audience or a single listener.
My dad would counsel me about speaking with a favorite adage, “The brain will absorb what the rear end will tolerate.”
Shakespeare wrote that “Brevity is the sole if wit.” In executive speaking, Brevity is a sole of retention.
When it comes to executive speaking, Brevity is an essential skill to practice. To exhibit Brevity in executive speaking, you should have a command of the skills of being:
Let’s explore each of these skills.
I have witnessed many executive speakers struggle to contain the amount of what they say into the time they’re allowed to say it.
In business, time is money. Today’s businesses proudly extoll how their people are doing more and more with less and less available time. It therefore stands that these same employees prize their time as a precious possession. An effective executive speaker does not waste an audience’s time.
Why waste it explaining a concept, getting to your point, or asking for the action you want people to take?
The ability to be Concise means that you are able to give a lot of information clearly and in a few words. It means you are brief but comprehensive. Getting to the point requires you to weed out any unnecessary content. It means you must learn to be precise in both content and language. It means you should have a plan and a formula to use that will help you control your content as well as shape its impact.
It is tough to be terse.
The act of being a Succinct speaker can be achieved when what you say is briefly and clearly expressed. Thomas Jefferson’s sage words above, “never to use two words when one will do”, must be heeded. The words you chose should be commonly understood. An acronym must be explained before it is used again. Being Concise means learning how to become terse; a speaker of few words. But your words must be chosen with purpose. To have impact you must have value in both your content and message.
Executive speakers often struggle with limiting the vastness of their knowledge when they speak to their audiences. As subject-matter experts, executive speakers have a tendency to dowse their audience with a fire hose when a sprinkler will do. As a result, they are neither economical in content or time.
To be economical means to use no more of something than is necessary. It also means to give good value or service in relation to the amount of time or effort spent.
Being economical of language and content is a great way to practice the brevity essential to your skill as an effective executive speaker and leader.
Being Compact in your executive speaking requires you to organize your content for maximum impact. Adhering to a formula or outline enables you to be precise in your approach and delivery. In speaking, this means expressing yourself with fewer words than normal. You must learn how to get your point out and then get to that point with precision, purpose and potency.
Listeners put a high price on speakers who value their time by being Concise, Succinct, Economical and Compact in their presentations and speeches. Demonstrating you are an executive speaker who has command of the skill of Brevity will enhance your stature, your level of influence, and your image as a leader within your organization.
It is true! In speaking, less really is more.
I urge you to keep Brevity in mind as an effective speaking tool. There is no reason why you, as an executive speaker, should not value and practice Brevity every time you speak. Brevity is your key unlocking the door to deeper understanding, greater impact and wider influence through saying more with less.
Thanks for your support as a reader of my blog and I eagerly welcome any comments on how you’re thinking about achieving the possibility of your promise. Also, I would appreciate any suggestions you might have for future posts in this blog on a topic near and dear to you in the comments section below. As always, please feel free to share this post with a friend or colleague.
To Your Speaking Success.
The Speech Wiz