“I would have written you a shorter letter if I had more time.”
The Idea: A few years ago, Microsoft uncovered that the average attention span has fallen thirty three percent, from twelve seconds to eight. We now live in a world where “capturing one’s attention” is an invaluable art form. The vast majority of people are still stuck in “powerpoint thinking,” a regimented and overblown approach to communication. But the best communicators are true, concise, and flexible. Are you able to get to the point and hold another’s attention? The research proves you may not be as good as you think. On average, people spend sixty percent of conversations talking about themselves. Those people are lost at sea and don’t even know it. I have discovered three big communication traps:
The Three Traps
Embellishment – Brilliant writers share one thing: extreme editing. They unapologetically and mercilessly cut any unnecessary elements. Communications must remain minimal, clear, and thoughtful. While most of us aren’t routinely exposed to merciless editors, if you ever get to see their process you’ll realize there is always an opportunity to cut. Trim the fat from your discussions – learn brevity.
Unreadiness – You want to be irrelevant? Don’t prepare properly. “Under promising and overperforming,” is the most proven, yet least practiced, adage today. There is nothing worse than someone who shows up for a discussion and doesn’t understand your needs, agenda, or communication preference. The best communicators think like surgeons, diagnosing the situation (and context) before they prescribe a solution.
Isolation – Stretching is inherently uncomfortable. To be present and receptive in a room full of people is an incredibly difficult feat. The best communicators are in the moment with you, adapting their communication style to be congruent with yours, no matter if you’re alone or with a whole team. It’s not about “them”, it’s about “you.” In a word, they are highly “present.”
Mark Twain shared, “it usually takes me two or three days to prepare an impromptu speech.” The best presentations (or discussions) have no fluff. They have been edited down to the essence of the message. Keep the tangents to the dinner table with old friends. Anyone can give a 30-slide presentation; very few can share an idea with precision, in one slide. The more concise the presentation, the more time necessary to create it.
- Is your communication simple, clear, and direct?
- Is it natural, conversational, and relatable?
- Can you grab someone’s attention and still make your point is less than sixty seconds?
In a Customer Centric Selling blog, John Holland shares, “Filler words are verbal crutches and can be distracting. Don’t talk just to fill up space! Pause, listen, don’t make noise.”
One must create a compelling sales story that is simple, experiential, and unique while capturing another’s attention. Don’t let needless details detract from your message. Uncover the soul of your message.