Know why you are communicating
The most important part of any communication is the why. Why does this communication exist? Why are you sending that email? Why are you posting that on social? Why are you saying that, videoing that, playing that, or reading that?
When communication gets long, it’s usually because the communicator doesn’t have a clear idea of why they are communicating. It’s like Michael Scott from The Office said, “Sometimes I’ll start a sentence, and I don’t even know where it’s going, I just hope I find it along the way, like an improv conversation.”
There is value in thinking through things out loud and talking through your thoughts, but like in the clip above, doing that while talking to someone else, especially your boss, may not be the best idea. Instead, in every communication, it’s critical to take a moment and think about why you are communicating. That why becomes your anchor, giving the communication value and stability.
Know when to stop
The worst thing a salesperson can do is to keep selling after the person is sold. We’ve all been in this situation. You are at the store; you know what you want. The salesperson has what you want, but they are still talking when you are ready to buy. So, you patiently wait for them to stop talking, so you can finally buy and go about your day.
Communication is the same way. The worst thing we can do is keep communicating after the person gets the point or stop communicating before they get it. There is a balance between knowing your audience and knowing your why. You have to make sure you communicate your why while keeping your audience just long enough to sell them and not lose them by overselling.
The most common place I see this need is in verbal communication. There is a discomfort in ending verbal communication to a group. Sometimes the last statement you make hangs in the air for a few moments too long, causing awkward silence until someone picks up the conversational baton and runs with it. This causes speakers to want to keep talking, making their point multiple times while the group politely waits for a chance to join the conversation. Know when to stop, and be ok with a little awkward silence, it won’t be too painful.
Wrapping it up
Going into any communication, if you know the point you want to make and are willing to stop the communication once that point is made, you will have communicated effectively. Your audience will thank you for it.