3 Tips to be More Concise at Work

If you asked me to identify the number of clients that tell us that they need to be more concise at work I would say “high 80%”.

Yes, that many.

It might take form in being more concise and specific in meetings, emails, and conversations. Maybe presentations need to be tighter, updates for clients and internal staff more specific, or just getting your point across through the path of least resistance. It’s a common issue, and one that can definitely make your client, coworker or boss lose interest. My go to phrase is “Words are currency, don’t waste money.” We have literal seconds (a recent study says 8!) to connect with another person, and if you’re wasting it on things that don’t matter, you’ve already lost.

Here are three quick tips to being more concise at work:

  • Understand your audience

    By digging into your audience and understanding what makes them tick, you’re ahead of the game. Think about what they want: often times, it’s not small talk, jokes, weird stories – it’s the information that you possess. Once you have that information outlined, you can add a few details if you know you’ll have to gain trust or likability. If they are interested in just the facts, skip the fluff and get to the point. They might need and desire fluff, so add that story about your dog, dinner or partner.

    Remember: this isn’t what YOU need – it’s what they need.

  • Start in the middle – idea first

    Hand in hand with understanding your audience is starting in the middle. In improv, you’re taught to skip the background. You start in the middle and move forward with the action, letting smaller details come out as the action progresses.

    Same with presenting information in a meeting or a conversation – don’t build the stage to folks who already know the story! Get to the point with what they need to know, and if you’re uncertain, lead with the middle and idea, then tap back to other information if they ask questions about content.

  • Bare bones first

    Have time to prep? Take the idea and par it down to the bare bones. A nice way to try this – if you can explain the idea in two minutes, try it in one minute then again in 30 seconds. The point isn’t to talk as fast as possible, it’s to whittle down the information as much as possible to still get the point across. When you have that figured out, you can add necessary details to connect with the audience AND ensure you’re still starting in the middle.