Let me get right to the point: If you want to be a more effective communicator, have a point!
Before you start to say something, know what you are going to say. And why. To understand why you are sharing information, first ask what you want the recipient to do once the message has been received.
Don’t you wish everyone sending you an email had a clear, concise point? Like me, you’ve probably receive countless emails containing lots of data but no relevant information. Often I will receive an email with attached spreadsheets. Believe me, in the past I’ve diligently scoured that data assuming “there must be a pony in here somewhere.” Unfortunately, I’ve never found one. So now, when I receive such an email, I will scan the first paragraph to decipher what I need to know. If the point is not clearly articulated there, I will move on to something more relevant.
After all, why waste valuable time trying to figure out the point of pointless communications?
Last week I happened to notice that I’ve been placed on the agenda for an upcoming meeting. As I write this, I’m not sure what the purpose of my brief presentation will be. Believe me, though, if I remain on the agenda I’ll make sure that my presentation has a point. To clarify the purpose of my communications, I will ask myself these three questions:
- Who am I talking with?
- Why should they care about what I have to say?
- What is my point (in one sentence)?
Perhaps my favorite movie quote comes from Steve Martin in Planes, Trains and Automobiles. After listening to blabbermouth John Candy talk incessantly, Steve finally explodes and says, “And by the way, when you’re telling these little stories, here’s a good idea: Have a point! It makes it so much more interesting for the listener.”
Before you communicate, do you have a point?