When you look at job advertisements these days, the first thing mentioned in all of them as the most important skill is “verbal and written communication skills”. It doesn’t matter whether you are applying for an entry-level position in a bank or as lead engineer for an astrophysics project, this will always be the first skill listed.
But even though such high importance is placed on communication, many people are still struggling with communicating in the most efficient ways possible. And one of the most important lessons to learn is not to use too many words, but rather keep it short and snappy. According to Dr. Lois Frankel, an expert in coaching, this is a lesson that especially business women need to take to heart, as she explains in this video interview with CBS Money Watch:
But reducing this advice to women in business would be short-sighted and foolish. There are plenty of men whose communication skills could be vastly improved by saying less as well.
The most important suggestion in this from my point of view is the first one, perfectly named as “Headline Communication”. Take a look at the yellow papers and while the content may be complete rubbish, the headlines are perfectly designed to grab your attention. And when you are trying to communicate, grabbing people’s attention straight away in a catchy fashion and with the most important information can be just as effective.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should be running around shouting grisly one-liners and expecting people to pay attention. The content is also crucial, but for communication the packaging is just as important and for that headline communication works very well. Just compare it to meeting someone new. Don’t they tell you that you never have a second chance at a first impression? The same is true with communicating ideas or proposals, so make sure that the first impression is a positive one that will be remembered. And think about what you are more likely to remember: a lengthy speech on a subject or a short statement that makes you realise just how important it is.
So whether you are a woman or a man, learn to use fewer words to get your message across and employ headline communication to get attention to it. The other advantages Dr. Frankel lists, such as increased respect, will come automatically as extremely positive side-effects.