Office Etiquette Rule Number 8: Learn How to Say Something in Twelve Words

Etiquette Rule Number 8: Learn How to Say Something in 12 Words (or Less)

Conference calls are killing people. Yet people complain they are not informed. Then they complain they have too much information.

I am not sure what to think on this--except this: Learn how to say something and shut up.

Know that when speaking not placing a period at the end of the sentence is far more gruesome than people than the written run-on sentence. Speak up, but then shut up. As much as you want to explain something, in hopes that everyone gets it, or in an attempt to demonstrate that you are the smartest person in the room, is a fools errand.

Learn to say in two sentences what it takes to say in ten. Even if someone asks you to explain something say it in two sentences. Make the sentences spot on. Make every word count. Assume the other person gets it.

And please, don't use fillers like "um" and "ah." Make your statement and assume everyone is at least as smart as you. And then shut the heck up.

Be brilliant. This means that you do, however, have to think through what you want to say, or risk sounding like you are disorganized.

Start with the punchline first. The answer is X. It's supported by Y. Don't say, "And 20 of us agree. We used ABC theory and XYZ methodology." Not yet anyway. Have those in your hip pocket. If you don't have one (a hip pocket) buy one. Wear a suit jacket--that's where you'll find one.

Today, you'll be rewarded for saying less than you know. The corollary is also true: you will be punished for saying more than what you know.

I had a boss who said this about speaking and presenting: Be Bright. Be brief. And be gone.  

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