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BECOMING ELEGANTLY SUCCINCT

If you’re interested in making 2017 a year that you can look back on and truly say, “I am a better trainer for 2017” then answer this question. What would you like to be able to say about yourself as a trainer that will make you proud, and let you know that 2017 will be a year full of engagements and people calling you in to deliver training, workshops or even keynotes? Take some time now to write your answer down.

What I want to be able to say at the end of 2017 is “I know I am elegantly succinct, and my students know I am too.”
There are many areas that we can work on to improve our value as trainers. So why did I choose being elegantly succinct for this post? Quite simply, I want to leave my audiences with a string of 3-4 epiphanies. I want them to get it. I want them to be able to “take away the point” and be clear in their minds about what the point is. I want the point to be so clear that its mind blowing. I want them to be able to integrate the learning, and continue on to transform their own lives beyond their time with me.

Elegantly Succinct — I was so seduced into thinking that having this skill would be a “walk in the park.” I learnt that these two relatively simple words (together or apart) are not simple to do/be at all. While I believe that the art of being elegantly succinct is a gestalt of all of the skills we acquire while developing as a trainer, I concluded that there is something missing. So, began my research to finding the missing link.

In the dictionary succinct means being: “brief, to the point, concise, compact, summary, condensed, terse, laconic, pithy, gnomic, compendious.” The antonyms or opposites are these: rambling, long-winded, wordy, diffuse, circuitous, discursive, verbose, prolix, circumlocutory.

While I am reasonably succinct in my delivery I still toiling with it. So, after many years, I know I have a blind spot in this area because while speaking I think about how I will say things to make a point. From time to time, I catch myself waffling, rambling, long winded, wordy, and then hope it hasn’t affected my students too negatively. Subsequently, after a little curse, to self, I get to the point. Tacky tacky tacky!

One day my daughter asked me what a word meant and I gave her an answer that left her thinking, and then asking more questions to get clarity. Clearly, I didn’t do very well. Midway through my monologue, my partner gave his definition. My daughter looked at me and said “Now I get it — why didn’t you just say that mum?” Aaaah “from of the mouths of babes.”

In this scenario my intent was to help her understand, but what I did was overwhelm her with a nasty concoction of details. Retrospectively, what i did was take the whole bookshelf of dictionaries sitting in my head and gave her that. And get this, I was trying to be succinct. To take my daughter to another level of confusion — when I realised she wasn’t clear about what I was saying I just kept pumping out more unclear information. This was a solid forehead slap moment, and blind spot revelation. Awesome!

The latter, lead me on a search for answers. I found and read the book “How to deliver a TED Talk.” Really useful. The answers didn’t exactly jump right out at me, but the read did lead me to discovering how it is possible to deliver an amazingly brief, and incredibly engaging, informative, and professional presentation.

To summarise my learnings:
1. If you have been told that you do any of the antonyms of succinctness listed above, act on your awareness to seize the learning opportunity to grow now.
2. In order to write, speak, and prepare our presentations with succinct elegance we must think succinctly
3. Becoming elegantly succinct requires that we eliminate redundant information. Consider these three things: what must your audience know, what’s nice to know, and what do they need to know before they know that?
4. While your intent to educate is selfless and wonderful, it can be your hang up. Remember its not about whats important to you. It’s about communicating the most critical and relevant information to give them a “Now I get it!” moment.
5. To think, write and to speak succinctly we must plan our delivery and cut the waffle out.
6. Less is more. If you want people to arrive at a destination stop creating roadblocks. Give them what they must know and then trust that they are intelligent enough to get it.

May 30, 2017

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