By focusing what you say helps you get your message across


A couple of times a year, I take a day off  to catch up on all those appointments and errands that pile up. When I do, I drive around a lot, from doctor’s office to mall to post office.

I use this car time to listen to call-in shows on National Public Radio, where the host interviews guests and takes calls from listeners.

One thing I noticed is that people who are experienced at being interviewed—politicians, celebrities, book authors, activists—tend to be very good at answering questions by delivering a single, focused message.

(They may be so good at getting their message across, in fact, that they don’t actually answer the question being asked, but turn the question to suit their needs.)

In any case, by the end of the interview, these experienced communicators have gotten their point across, whether that point is “vote for me,” “buy my book” or “pay attention to this issue.”

By contrast, it’s likely that at least some of the callers are ramblers. They start on one topic, meander over to another, and finish somewhere else entirely. Some seem to be so thrilled to be on the radio, that they can’t seem to get over their excitement enough to find a focus. One sentence ellipses into another, in a kind of free-flowing fugue. And, in the end, you wonder what they meant anyway.

The point: Unless you have a single focus—a high concept—you’re in danger of not getting your point across at all.

So when you think about how you’re going to improve the way you communicate with employees, remember the importance of focus. One clear message is always more effective than many scattered thoughts.

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