Whether it's public speaking or general conversation, people tend to prattle to be polite, to warm up, and to be liked. Seventy-four percent of people suffer from a fear of public speaking, and that fear leads to bad behaviors that ultimately detract from your message.
Here's a little secret: You don't need to be liked. You need to be credible. Winning friends will not get you to your goal. Making credible, direct statements and requests gives off the impression that you're a clear thinker. That's what will guide you to success.
In my role as a global executive coach, I recently met with an extrovert who loves to ramble. When he thinks out loud, he looks for facial cues that people are with him. In his mind, head-nodding, note-taking, and mouth movements indicate that his audience gets it. When people aren't giving these cues, he talks faster and more to increase their understanding.
That's where he goes wrong. Many people actively listen without making facial gestures. When he starts to over talk, his main point gets lost, and people tune out. A better strategy would be to catch himself, reiterate his core point, and seek confirmation of understanding.
Be Direct to Get More Buy-in
Start by asking yourself, "What do I really want to say, and what do I really want my audience to do?" Here are some tips for saying it more clearly.
1. Connect the topic emotively.
You'll be more connected to your audience when you communicate using emotive language. Say the actual words about how you feel: I am excited, frustrated, worried, etc. This signals the audience to know what's happening for you internally. This connects them to you.
One of my clients did this brilliantly at a recent global sales meeting. He said: "Let me share with you what I'm noticing in the business, and here's where I'm concerned. I know A, B, and C are happening, and I know we can fix it if we do X, Y, and Z. I need to know if you are willing to do this with me."
In that brief statement, he got right to the point. He conveyed his own emotion -- concern -- which immediately hooked the room join his view. Then, he presented the way forward.
2. Frame your conversation.
Put your request, suggestion, or main point at the beginning to frame your purpose. By stating your intention early, you help the audience know what the purpose is, which also helps you get things done.
They will easily remember the first thing you say, followed by the last thing you say. Use that to your advantage. If people aren't confused about what you want, they can fully focus on getting the information they need to fulfill the request.
3. Punt politeness, and focus on directness.
Adding a bunch of words and small talk to warm up is a time waster and message distracter. Keep to three succinct points after your purpose statement, and remove filler words like "um" or "uh." If you get off-track, pause. Count to three, breathe, and don't be afraid to call out that you veered off-track. Say, "Let me recap." Then, dive back in to your topic.
Public speaking is about taking your audience on a journey. To keep them on the ride is to be direct; otherwise, you risk losing them along the way. You're in control of leading them to the destination.