"LAND THE PLANE..."
That's what our younger daughter (one of the funniest people I know) says to me when I go on and on and on (and on) about something - it could be anything - from a meeting I had, to an outfit I'm thinking of wearing for a speech, to a movie I watched. Sometimes she follows it with, "You didn't realize that I stopped listening five minutes ago, did you?" So I've gotten into the habit of making myself cut straight to the chase - usually just a split second before her eyes glaze over.
But here's the thing: she's right. I do go on. Maybe you do, too. You know what I mean: We think we have to build our cases (like an obsessed - or maybe possessed - lawyer), explain every single detail of our thinking, all the ramifications of our opinions, situations, decisions or dilemmas - before we get to the punch line.
Actually, I watched a guy (a brilliant lawyer I had just started coaching) in an interview with Meet the Press make this mistake. By the time he was finished with all his background explanation, the late Tim Russert's eyes had glazed over and he said, "I'm sorry for interrupting, but what exactly is your point?" (Too bad he'd never met Abigail; he might just have said, "Hey, land the plane, will you?") Unfortunately, my friend who had eaten up most of his time with his prologue, had to rush through the heart of his message...and came across as diffused and well, forgettable. But he never did that again...
Now he uses these four simple steps:
1. Act like a journalist, not a lawyer. (Nothing against lawyers, btw...their methods work. In a courtroom.) Journalists know they have to capture your attention at the top of the piece - or else they lose you completely.
2.That means you have to"lead with the 'lede,'" as journalists say. The "lede" is the core thought - the main idea, the headline or punchline, the guts of the message.
3. Mentally "frame" that headline and deliver it the way you would deliver "news" - clearly, concisely, passionately.
4. If there's time (and interest) explain and amplify your thinking, your rationale, your point of view as the conversation unfolds... the way a journalist fleshes out and substantiates his story as he proceeds through the piece.
Okay, your audience might not always buy what you're selling or give you the response you're looking for - but at least you won't see their shoulders slump and their eyes roll back in their heads. Or worse, hear someone shout from the audience, "I stopped listening five minutes ago!!"
Actually, I've gone on and on, haven't I? Wait, I can see the runway...
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