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Leadership Communication Tip #15: Get Clear and Concise

By Stephanie Bickel

The leader's message must be understood. When it isn't, your audience stops trusting you.

When you ask an expert to explain a complex concept and they ramble through years of research, experimentation, a mountain of details, and anecdotes - they no longer sound like an expert. They sound like a mad scientist. Too much knowledge over your topic can be a curse.

Experts must cultivate the skill of speaking clearly and concisely - because when you confuse, you lose. And when you ramble, they scramble.

Senior audiences will not tolerate confusing ideas and indirect responses to question.

Listen in for ideas that immediately help you be clear and concise on Apple iTunes.

Get your bottom line upfront so there is no risk of confusion. Keep your responses short so that you maintain your listener's attention span.

Here are our top tips for improving your clarity:

  1. Structure your message into 3 steps, 3 topics, or 3 ingredients.

  2. Only share one complex concept per meeting and teach it will a drawing or visual model.

  3. Simulate the scenario in real-time versus walking through a flowchart.

  4. Send a pre-read that would give people enough time to thoroughly read and digest the data. Consider giving them a week, so they can submit questions in advance of the meeting.

  5. Get different voices involved in the delivery to keep their attention.

  6. Never include more than 1 chart per page on a presentation deck (it's ok in a pre-read deck to have more than one chart per page).

For conciseness:

  1. Seek to keep your messages under 90 seconds unless the audience has invited you to lecture.

  2. If you have a 20 minute presentation, find ways to make it interactive.

  3. Make sure you know exactly what the audience's question is so your message or presentation answers that directly. If they ask a yes or no question, don't begin your response with a story.

  4. Consider going on a word fast to help you be more courteous to audiences. Less is more.

We want to satisfy our audience's curiosity and build their enthusiasm.

You become a speaker that they enjoy listening to when you have a reputation for being a clear and concise speaker.


Interested in becoming a leadership communication coach? Learn more.

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