Here’s the next letter in our Alphabet Soup of Public Speaking Blunders.  

The letter D: Droning Details.

Ready for a guessing game? Read the following paragraph and then choose which question you believe elicited this response….

“Well, I woke up earlier than usual, about 6:30 am, before my 7:30 alarm, so I got worried right away that I wasn’t going to be at 100%for this presentation. I decided not to drink coffee, since I knew that would get me wired, but then I felt all draggy so I went for a half caf thing just to get me more energized. After I showered, I decided to go with a snappier look and put on these cool new shoes, but I’ll probably get a blister….but I’ll be sitting on the stage so I thought they would look good. I had toast for breakfast so I wouldn’t feel full. Anyway, I’m here now and have my notes all ready. I’ll meet you in an hour for rehearsal?

Are you still with us?!  If so, pick the inciting question:

a.    How are you?

b.    Ready for our presentation?

c.    How was your morning?

d.    Any or all the above?

Correct Answer: D – Any or all of the above!

Did you actually read the full answer?  Of course you didn’t. This is a classic case of not knowing what we want to say so we opt for stream of consciousness rather than succinct and compelling. What went wrong?

First, this person was not fully present in the moment. They were toggling between past and future. It’s hard to connect to your audience if you are not in the moment.

Second, this person could not get out of their own way and instead went on and on and on until they petered out. And problematically, they have not learned that “and then I,” “and then I,” are not part of a compelling speaker’s toolbox.

Imagine if s/he had said this instead…

“Thanks for asking. Have you ever woken up early because you were nervous about something? That was me at 6:30 am. But, I’m ready to get on stage and I even upped my game.”

To achieve ‘succinct and compelling’ requires speakers to curate the details and then add color to be relatable and human.

The only time you should rattle off lists is when you’re dictating your grocery list. A droning chronology of minor details will never engage your audience. Remember great communicators “show” (paint the picture) and don’t “tell” (ad nauseum lists).

That is what Clout is all about!

Want to work on your concision and brevity?

Join us for CLOUT: Communication Skills for Go-Getters in Boston on Oct 13.