Talking too long? How to sharpen up executive communication – the top 5 tips

Loretta Brown

A common challenge for leaders (and coaches of leaders) is talking too long. When we are passionate and knowledgeable, it can be easy to say too much and “go on about it”, sadly losing our audience and potential supporters. It can help to be reminded to tweak our communication skills, whether we are talking with one other person or with larger audiences. Becoming more aware can be all that is needed to have more impact.

If a leader asks three questions before meeting with others then executive impact will soar:

  • What are they interested in and what do they want to know?

  • What do I need and want others to know?

  • What is the most important message I want to communicate?

Once these questions have been answered then use the top 5 tips to proceed:

High-level issue:

Make sure that the big important point doesn’t get lost in all the clutter. Zoom in on the main higher-level issue. Avoid details as much as possible! And nail the big idea quickly.

Bite size chunks:

Break up points into smaller bits. Give a piece at a time. Don’t overload the listeners. Listeners can be helped if they are guided! Let them know that you willbriefly explain something and what the most important two or three things are that you will be covering.

Use a story:

People respond to story’s so if you can link a personal story with your high level point you will be on to a winner with memorable communicating.

Ask questions:

After you have introduced the high level issue, and offered a few bite sized chunks, you can check in with you listeners and see if they have questions or thoughts. This will ensure your communication is relevant and helpful to them.

Look for cues:

Lastly one of the most important things you can do is watch for the cues in others. Do they look captivated, or even just interested? Or are they drifting off, looking away or beginning to fidget? Use the audience as a barometer for your talking and stop and refocus when you need to.

If you are finding that “talking long” is coming up consistently in feedback that you are receiving, then it may be that you need some extra help to practice speaking with focus. Sometimes the lack of acknowledgment and the need for others to really understand your ideas can get in the way of powerful communicating. In this case working with a leadership coach can quickly and painlessly render this challenge to the past.

Loretta Brown

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