We’ve all seen this happen in meetings: “Can I just make a point here? I just think that … Now how should I put this … Erm, I reckon that maybe if we could just, uh, go back to what Sarah said, I think that raises an interesting point about, um …”
Rather than properly formulating their thoughts, people think aloud, or “think in their mouths”. Meanwhile, all they’ve actually contributed to the meeting is meaningless gibberish, and the other participants in the meeting have lost precious minutes they can never get back. Even if the eventual thought is one worth sharing, the message has become diluted, because they’ve lost authority and impact by wasting everyone’s time. This is definitely not how one communicates as a leader.
That’s why I’m a great believer in the beauty of brevity. By being concise and to the point, you not only ensure that what you’re contributing is of value, and delivered with maximum impact, but you also demonstrate to those around you that you respect them and their time. And, believe me, this will make them sit up and take notice of what you have to say.
Using brevity in meetings
Now, imagine a utopia in which everyone in a meeting strives for brevity. Meetings would take half the time, and be twice as impactful.
It’s not just a pipe dream – it’s entirely possible.
In this video, I talk about why making brevity a condition of your meetings is so powerful and how it helps you communicate as a leader.
In summary, making brevity a condition of meetings:
- Forces people to participate with greater consciousness, ensuring their contributions are more valuable
- Elevates the meeting to a higher standard by sending a clear message that low-value participation won’t be tolerated.
How to encourage brevity in meetings
So how do you go about making this utopia a reality? In the video, I touch on some ways to encourage brevity in meetings, which I’d like to go into in a little more detail here.
Here are my top 3 tips for using brevity to make meetings more impactful and efficient.
1. Success is 99% preparation, 1% perspiration
Be sure that all participants have received the agenda well ahead of time, and ask everyone to be prepared to discuss the topics at hand. This means also being prepared psychologically to hit the ground running once you get into the meeting.
2. Set the standard at the start of the meeting
Before the meeting gets underway, remind the participants that you’re striving for brevity, and ask people to think carefully about what they are going to say before making a contribution. The simple act of taking some time to properly formulate your thoughts is absolutely key when it comes to brevity. It might sound easy, but it is actually a skill that can take some time and practice to master, so be patient in the beginning.
3. Have the courage to intervene when the standard is not being followed
When you notice that someone is “thinking in their mouths”, politely interrupt and ask them to take some time to construct what they want to say. Move on, and then bring them back into the conversation once they’ve had some time to think. It may be a little awkward at first, but it sends a clear message that this is the standard to which everyone needs to adhere, and prevents this kind of unwanted behaviour creeping back into your meetings.
By exercising brevity, and making it a condition of all your meetings, you can communicate with impact and authority, while having meetings that are highly valuable and efficient. Why not try it at your next meeting?
If you want to communicate like a leader, you need to also have the confidence to do so. Download our cheat sheet on 4 steps to owning your confidence and get on the best path to leadership success today.
The Colin James Method® Facilitators train corporate executives to improve their leadership skills with a proven methodology. Our highly trained Facilitators and Coaches are recognised for their experience in their fields and have worked with many individuals and organisations around the world to master the art of communication.