One of the biggest challenges we have when communicating is deciding on the most important message we have. This I learnt from a sales person many years ago and it’s a point that really hit home.
When there are many options or messages to consider, it makes the decision-making process a lot more complicated and longer than it needs to be. But whether it’s a sales decision or not, this is a point worthy of attention. We all want to do what we can to help people arrive at the conclusions we’re driving them towards and so, we must do all we can to aid in that process.
The more things we put in front of people, the more their attention is swayed. And when you are trying to make a point, when you want people to focus or zero in, then putting more things in front of them is the last thing you want to do.
How do we fail? By behaving as if every issue held equal importance.
In email or documents, you may do this with highlighters, bold or underline effects in your text.
In a conversation, you may do this by bringing every issue into the discussion fold.
The trick is to hone in and declutter.
If you need to highlight, bold or underline – pick one effect and limit its use.
For conversations that matter, choose ONE main point and let that be the issue that is brought to attention. Supress the desire to bring corrollary issues into the fold, no matter how close the connection to the issue. Ask yourself whether it’s worth the effort if the end result is fragmented attention. Ask yourself whether bringing one more thing into the mix, makes things clearer for your listener or cloudy.
If you can, break the monotony of long prose and use bulletpoints. It’s easier for you to craft and easier for your reader to get through.
This is part of a series of 20 posts on How I Ensure I Respect Your Time.