Best leaders are known for their effective communication skills.

It mean clear, concise and getting to their point fast.

What about you?

Are you a “to the point” or a long-winded speaker?

When you make a presentation or answer a question in a meeting, do you ramble, sharing lots of details… and by the end, you lose people’s attention, or leave them confused and not sure what message you were trying to convey?  

When someone asks “What do you do?” do you share your entire biography while their eyes glaze over in boredom?

When you send an email with a new proposal, do the readers have to scroll down for several long paragraphs trying to find your point?

If so, it’s a real problem and costing you career and leadership progression, new opportunities, new clients and money.

To sell your ideas, to be heard and to influence effectively, you must learn how to write and speak briefly. 

Rambling is the opposite of executive (leadership) presence.

It does not lead to promotions, board membership, sales or bonuses. It only leads to bored, annoyed, disengaged peers and team members.

Brevity is not a skill that comes naturally to everyone, but it’s a skill that can be learned.

When I started training and coaching leaders and managers in effective communication 15 years ago, I noticed a pattern.

My clients would learn fast the importance of speaking with conviction and passion, making good eye contact and gesturing with intention — all the critical elements of a powerful delivery.

But when I asked them for the point of what they were saying, their responses were confusing and all over the map.

What I rarely heard was a true point: a simple proposition that idea X will lead to a meaningful impact on Y.

What do I mean by this?

Imagine two presenters discussing increasing a company’s investment in social media marketing.

If you asked for their point, they might say “social media marketing.” But that’s a topic. Or they might say “the importance of social media marketing in business.” But that’s a title. Or they might say “the rising phenomenon of social media marketing.” But that’s a theme.

A point is different.

It’s a contention you propose, argue, defend, illustrate and prove. The purpose is clear, and it lays out a specific and meaningful impact.

To easily elevate a topic, title or theme into a point, I recommend using the “I Believe That” exercise.

The most successful speakers use it, and it’s incredibly simple:

  1. Imagine the point you are about to make to a colleague, boss, client, over LinkedIn or in a panel talk, as a single sentence.
  2. Put the words “I believe that” in front of it.
  3. Ask yourself: “Is this now a complete sentence with a clear point?”

For instance, “I believe that increasing our investment in social media marketing will expose our product to more millennials, unlocking new revenue streams.”

Here are a few more examples of elevating topics into points:

 “I believe that innovations in AI will make us more efficient.”
“I believe that investing in infrastructure is the best way to prepare for our future.”

You don’t need to include the words “I believe that” in your point, but consider how that inclusion increased the level of personal conviction behind these three famous points:

I believe that one person can make a difference.”
— Greta Thunburg

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

I believe that good journalism can make our world a better place.
— Christiane Amanpour

The perils of not having a point can’t be overstated. You could be the world’s most confident speaker yet fail if you don’t know your point, much less make it.

Without a point, everything you say is vague and pointless.

Speaking without a true point is also the greatest cause of rambling, low audience engagement in meetings, public presentations or LinkedIn, and epic fail.

Lastly, remember that …

Getting to your point, making your point, sticking to your point, and nailing your point all starts with knowing your point.

So clarify your point and find a way to get to your point faster, my friend — regardless whether you’re speaking in a meeting or on a panel, writing an important email or a LinkedIn post.