Leaders think strategically, understand the critical link between focus and clarity, and appreciate the value of time. So fewer and fewer are inclined to let others waste their time. Brevity has become a basic communication skill for professionals.
Here are six best practices as a leader:
Be brief when speaking off-the-cuff. Lectures are for the classroom. Make your point and move on.
Organize business presentations for decision makers. Start with your summary message up front. Then follow with what you want your listeners to decide, do, consider, approve, or understand as you elaborate. You’ll be surprised how many details become unnecessary after a succinct summary.
Edit emails, reports, and proposals ruthlessly. Just because a document is informal shouldn’t mean it’s a disorganized timewaster. Make your bottom-line message your top line–literally. Then provide the essential details to support the message and clarify the action. Your ten minutes invested in editing can save reader time for your entire distribution list.
Prepare for meetings. Review the agenda prior to the meeting, and prepare your comments so you can deliver them concisely. Have any data available so your contribution to the discussion doesn’t devolve into a ramble.
Facilitate efficient meetings. You know that you can DVR your favorite TV program and watch it in about half the time it takes to watch the live version by simply fast-forwarding through the commercials. Likewise, analyze the productive parts of your meetings versus the “downtimes”: late starts, off-topic discussions, waiting for missing information. Eliminate these timewasters by better facilitation skills.
Eliminate timewasters in your events. Consider management meetings, sales meetings, and industry conferences scheduled over several days. How much time has been allowed for announcements, “logistics,” introductions of the introducers, agenda overviews? Many of these items simply tell attendees what they’ve already read in the program brochure or on the website. Eliminate them.
According to Shakespeare, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” In today’s marketplace, brevity is also key to the C-suite.