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The Secret to Effective Communication: Keep It Short

The Secret to Effective Communication: Keep It Short
With ever-shrinking attention spans, it's imperative for today's business professional to be brief but and effective in his or her communications. / Credit: Tin can telephone image via Shutterstock

In today's tech-saturated world, people receive a constant flood of information from emails, social media and news websites. When you share an important story or idea with someone, you're likely competing with hundreds of other pieces of information he or she is trying to process. So what's the secret to making an impact? Author and speaker Joe McCormack says it's brevity.

"Being brief is an essential 21st-century skill," said McCormack, author of "Brief: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less" (Wiley, 2014). "People are buried with information, and the average attention span is now eight seconds. You can't hold anyone's attention if you're not brief."

For business professionals, the consequences of droning on too long go beyond losing people's attention and wasting valuable time. It can also tarnish your reputation. [4 Ways to Make the Most of Your Meetings]

"As a decision maker, if you can't communicate your thoughts quickly and succinctly, people lose confidence in you," McCormack told Business News Daily.

Whether you're going on a job interview, giving a business presentation, or just explaining an idea, McCormack offered three tips for keeping your communications concise but effective.

  • Prepare beforehand. Before you get on the phone with someone or go into a meeting, do as much prep work as possible so you can plan out what you want to say. This will help you avoid going off on a tangent or tripping over words.
  • Don't over-explain. When you're too long-winded, your listener will quickly become bored and tune you out. Have the restraint to trim down your message and say fewer, but clearer and more concise words. This will spark the listener's interest, and he or she will actively want to hear more from you.
  • Stop talking and listen. This is perhaps the most important step to brief, engaging communication. Say what you need to say, then stop talking and listen to what the other person has to say. You can then give a thoughtful, relevant response that will move the conversation forward.

Originally published on Business News Daily.

Nicole Fallon

Nicole received her Bachelor's degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. Nicole served as the site's managing editor until January 2018, and briefly ran Business.com's copy and production team. Follow her on Twitter.