It’s spring cleaning season, and that means it’s time to de-clutter your communication. There are many ways to be sparser and, as a result, far more effective in how you communicate.
Here are five.
- Get rid of filler words and non-words. Eliminate meaningless words and phrases, such as “and” or “you know.”Non-words are sounds and stutters like “um.” It takes training to remove filler words and non-words from your speech. Sometimes we become deaf to them, not realizing how often we use them. Try recording yourself and really listening to what you’re saying. With practice and pacing, you can successfully eradicate all those “ums.” You’ll sound cleaner and more professional.
- Organize your thoughts. Start with a clear purpose, then build from a six-step roadmap: an introduction, the opportunity you’re addressing, a solution, benefits, evidence and a close. Your speech will follow a natural arc that is easy to process (and remember).
- Spare the details. Your audience doesn’t want a blow-by-blow account. They want headlines backed by intelligent analysis and occasional anecdotes. Look for ways to cut the fat from your first draft. Be disciplined about the details you share. If you feel yourself sliding into a back story, stop and say, “There’s a longer story here I’d love to share if I had the time.” Consider this rule for your presentations: 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30 point font.
- Use visuals to your advantage. Effective images allow you to talk less while conveying more. Once you’ve completed the first draft of a speech, look it over for sections that could be replaced or shortened by a visual. (See the 10/20/30 rule, above.)
- Cut back on physical clutter. Swaying bodies, moving hands and restless feet can be wildly distracting. Gesture with purpose. Stand tall and move deliberately. Focus your eye contact. Conserve your energy – and, in the process, enable your audience to focus on your message.
You’ll experience a big impact when you de-clutter your communication. Happy spring cleaning!
Greg Dardis is the CEO of Dardis Communications.