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By Stephen D. Boyd

How can I be persuasive? How can I motivate my boss or my client to accept my point of view? Whatever the context or idea you are advocating, think conciseness. This principle will help guarantee your success. When you are concise, you are seen as sharp, intelligent, and in control. Here are three ways to cultivate conciseness in your speaking.


First, develop your ideas with this basic organizational pattern: Start with a point and then give your evidence for that point. Use an illustration, a statistic, or perhaps a piece of testimony to make your point and then move on to the next one. The pattern for conciseness is a point and support, a point and support. A method of checking your approach to conciseness is that in any message you should have few points and much support. In a typical 20 minute presentation, you might have three points with several pieces of evidence for each. When you tell an audience, "I am going to make seven points today," you are admitting you have not learned how to be concise. Revise that material so you have two or three main points.


A second way to become more concise in your presentation is to use transitions between main points that give a sense of direction. Even a simple one-word transition like "first" or "second" makes the listeners feel you are getting to your points faster. Internal summary helps you to leave out extraneous material. To be more concise, simply say, "Now that we have talked about clarity, let's move on to conciseness." To keep on track and to use your time most efficiently, use transitions to give your message direction.

The Principle of Three

A final way to be concise is to use the pattern of organization you have observed in this article. Organize your materials in threes. People respond best to the number three; so when possible, have three points. Use three statistics interspersed among your examples. Relate three instances about the point you want to make. Use three pieces of description. Audiences will perceive you as concise when you limit your content to three of something. Your presentation is easy to follow when you speak in threes. The self-discipline of limiting yourself to three will force you to be concise.

Whenever preparing a speech or speaking on an issue, keep in mind these three key principles. And remember, never take 10 minutes to make a point when you could easily do it in five. Brevity is always better! Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., is a professor of speech communication at Northern Kentucky University. He can be reached at (800) 727-6520. *

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