Are you succinct?

“Can I have 10 more minutes?”

“7 minutes is not enough for my speech, I need xx amount because the manual says so”

“I promise this won’t take too long”

Regardless who you are communicating to, you will always face a constraint: time.

Some see it as a curse. Others grasp this as an opportunity to be creative.

A few years back, I complained too much about time constraints on discussions, meetings and even speeches. My perspective was the following:

“They need to listen to me because my idea is too cool. This is important for the project. I don’t care about their time. They should make time for me because I paid to be a member.”

In other words “me me me me me me me me me me.” Until one day, someone at Toastmasters told me to “Be Succinct.” For several months, I didn’t really understood what that meant. The dictionary defines it as speaking “briefly” and “clearly.” I found a better definition from a Stanford professor, Lee Emerson Bassett, that given more context to the word.

“The ability to say the right thing in the right way at the right time”

the right thing

This does not mean that you have to be 100% accurate on your idea but the idea does have to be genuine and relevant to your audience. Before addressing your audience, you need to think before you make a comment. Does your message really matter to the group of people you are talking to? Be respectful of people’s time; they are bombarded with a lot of information from all directions everyday.

the right way

Words are valuable. Use them wisely. Pay attention to how you use your words. I often neglected this because I assumed that more talking is good and makes me look smart. But that person who told me to be succinct also said less is more. This is where as a communicator I begin to put more thought into the way I used my words. There’s benefit to you too. You’ll be saving energy on explanations.

the right time

Sometimes, nothing needs to be said. People may not be ready to hear your message or ideas. Does that mean you move on? No, you wait until they are ready to listen to you. Communication is not about talking and dismissing people. Communication happens when someone speaks and the other person listens.

This past year, I learned that being succinct is really about developing awareness so you make choices on the right thing, the right way and the right time. It’s an effort worthwhile because you’ll save the world from gobble-gobble-gobble. People will love and than you thank you for speaking with clarity and being genuine.