My mentor shared with me excerpts from the book Quiet Leadership. The book shares some helpful quotes about being succinct:
“When there is a gap between one’s real and declared aims, one turns instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like cuttlefish squirting out ink.”
– George Orwell
“Sincere words are not embellished; embellished words are not sincere.”
The book lists two reasons for being succinct:
- Focusing on being succinct makes the speaker get clearer about their core message, before they speak.
- Being succinct provides the listener with a chance to process bite-sized pieces of information, rather than having to digest several minutes of ideas at once.
You have credibility; don’t lose it.
My mentor and I talked about my presentation skills again (I was on a panel discussion recently and asked him to watch the video and give me feedback). I repeated myself too many times. So the goal is to be succinct and concise. The audience will only give me a small amount of time, space, and attention. I repeat myself for two reasons:
- Anxiety: There are two types of anxiety: situational (it’s scary to be a on a panel – who knows what they’ll ask you and if you’ll be prepared?) and internal (am I good enough, smart enough, fast enough, eloquent enough to be on this or any panel?).
- Passion: I am excited about the subject matter and reiterate points I find to be important. My mentor said, “people repeat themselves because they want to drive the point home.”
The anxiety can be overcome with the result of a calm and deliberate presentation. I will have to prepare more, relax more, think more, give myself time, and eat lunch regularly. My mentor said,
“We’re not going for 100% stress free. If we did, we would die. You need stress to stay on your toes. You want managed stress.
According to my mentor, the passion I have for my field of expertise is a benefit. I have such a high degree of energy and passion that it’s contagious. Don’t stop it. He said,
“Harness the passion so it becomes more powerful.”
This applies to presentations because in addition to not repeating myself, I will want to stop where the passion is greatest. Once I’ve given a great presentation, I should stop there and “put a period at the end of the sentence.” I shouldn’t go on, eventually losing the once-piqued interest of my audience. The expert has credibility, but he or she can lose credibility if anxiety and unharnessed passion get in the way.