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Leadership Thought #265 – Don’t Get Lost In Your Words


As a verbal person I don’t have issues with talking.  However, I do find myself rambling on at times and taking the long way around to making my point and/or connecting the dots.  I do my best to remember some advice I received from a mentor many years ago that when communicating with others in a professional setting “less is more.”   These days people have very short attention spans.  Most of us are literally bombarded with communication all day long.  It’s hard to keep everything straight and know when to pay attention. Sometimes it feels easier just block out whatever doesn’t resonate quickly.

Talented politicians and leaders realize this and have very clear and consistent talking points.  They don’t get lost in their words or stray off message.  Sadly, talent doesn’t always correlate with being right or thoughtful about an issue.  I’ve seem many people with the better intellectual or practical solution lose out to others who are more clear in their communication and better at relating to their audience.  Connecting with another person is a two way street; it isn’t a monologue.  You need to be able to read body language and appreciate when the other person’s interest starts to wane.  People literally make decisions in split seconds whether or not they are going to truly listen to you or tune you out.

When individuals are feeling overwhelmed or confused they want simplicity.  The more words you use the harder this becomes.  It’s not about proving how smart you are about a given topic, but instead ensuring that what you are communicating is registering.  I’ve seen quite a few speakers (myself included) lose track of their point when they get too verbose or abstract and then stumble trying to get back on track.  Not everything has to be simplified to appeal to the lowest common denominator, however if you want something to resonate you must balance being extemporaneous against being clear and focused in your communication.  Do your best not to get lost in your own words.

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