Get To The Damn Point! How to Say Less and Be Heard More

Lewis D Chaney Talks about saying LESS but being heard MORE YBKBS Small Business News Platform for smart business owners
Lewis D Chaney Talks about saying LESS but being heard MORE
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You’ve said it about them; they’ve said it about you. Well, maybe we just said it to ourselves, murmuring slightly with an un-noticed eye roll, or have at least thought, “Just get to the damn point already!”

I am not just talking about presentations or speeches given to larger audiences. I am talking about daily communications within groups, particularly in meetings.

To attempt to fix it, it’s been attacked from the outside with suggestions like “Have a two pizza meeting” meaning only enough people there that two pizzas can feed; “Make it a standing meeting” to wear them down; and my favorite “Just invite who needs to be there” like we dragged some poor fool off the street into our executive meeting.

Lewis D Chaney

Lewis D Chaney

Lewis D.Chaney, Founder/ CEO of GET TO THE DAMN POINT, LLC, is a TEDX Alumni, Award winning Speaker, Photojournalist and Director with an extensive background in Television News, Entertainment News, Commercial Advertising and Independent Film.

Now you have a room full of pissed off people, all of whom should be there, standing around eating pizza while one person is up front is droning thru their presentation, half of which didn’t need to be in there and the other half won’t be remembered because no one trained them how to engage the audience and communicate better!

And here’s the bonus: The Company just wasted the cumulative cost of all those in attendance for that hour with no ROI. Like shampoo, it’s wash, rinse, and repeat of this cycle daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly.

Doing it this way is like standing on the deck of a sinking ship with a bucket instead of going down stairs and patching the hole.

It’s time to patch the hole.
Here’s an obligatory stat for my article:

SHRM.ORG says “a survey of 400 companies with 100,000 employees each cited an average loss per company of $62.4 million per year because of inadequate communication to and between employees” and “… miscommunication cost even smaller companies of 100 employees an average of $420,000 per year.”

If that’s just looking at internal communication, how much do you think is being lost in business outside the office?

If you Google it, you will find that communication skills are one of the most highly sought after attributes by employers and it’s the same one employers say is missing from most candidates, even though the candidates might think they do it well.

get to the dam point - say less, be heard more

Are You Good In Bed?

Are you an excellent driver? Good judge of character? Have great taste in art and music? Are you a good cook? Most answer yes, but clearly, not everyone is.

Same thing applies to communication skills. This is The Dunning-Kruger effect.

In 1999, then-Cornell psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger, found a cognitive bias whereby people who are incompetent at something are unable to recognize their own incompetence. People in the lowest percentile over estimated their abilities to be in the higher percentile while those in the higher percentile typically rated themselves to be lower.

A Forbes magazine article said “If you’ve ever dealt with someone whose performance stinks, and they’re not only clueless that their performance stinks but they’re confident that their performance is good, you likely saw the Dunning-Kruger Effect in action.”

I once worked with a guy who was very smart but verbose. He was quick to go into a dissertation and pull up some video or an article online about the origin of the type of fabric dating back to blah, blah, blah, and the meticulous manufacturing techniques and craftsmanship used in forging his desk chair when all I asked was how comfortable it was.

David Dunning put it best, “The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t realize you are in the Dunning-Kruger club.”

Now that you see the problems, let’s get right to some ways to start fixing them.

PowerPoint is Becoming Powerless and Pointless

No one should put their speech in a slide deck and then just read. It’s boring, lazy and insulting.

A colleague went to a conference where the lead speaker read his power point. She had driven two hours, one way, to attend this event that was to cost her a full day away from her office. At the first break, she went to the organizer and explained that she could read the information could have been emailed. It was a total waste of her time and she left the conference, livid.

Steve Jobs said “”I hate the way people use slide presentations instead of thinking. People confront problems by creating presentations. I want them to engage, to hash things out at the table, rather than show a bunch of slides. People who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint.”

Jeff Bezos’s banned them from executive meetings at Amazon and adapted a narrative structure. Tips:

  •   Don’t use them if you can keep from it

  •   Use less words

  •   Use images when you can

  •   Have blank screens where you can be the focus

  •   For the love of all that is holy, do NOT shift into one virtually and stay there!

  •   AVOID USING BULLET POINTS! (I’m sure you have heard the saying that they are called bullet

    points because they kill your audience’s attention)

Realise Basic Public Speaking Isn’t Enough

Basic public speaking is just that: Basic. Do you really want to go into an extraordinary opportunity armed with “basic” skills? Where else does that logic apply?

Admit you need help, get the help, and improve.

If you can’t be that honest with yourself, you become a glutton of what I call the Time Buffet, that amount of time we all share when together. When you ramble, don’t GET TO THE DAMN POINT and engage me, you are eating up minutes and going back for seconds. If you can’t be that honest with yourself, get someone who will tell you the harsh truth.

People give you their time; it’s a gift they can’t get back. You owe it to them to make every second count.

And it’s not about the length of time you talk. You could speak for one hour and say nothing or talk for 5 minutes and blow people away. It’s about content and connection.

Basic public speaking doesn’t fix this. Hell, it doesn’t even fix the filler, or as I call them, the KILLER word problem.

Killer Words

Filler words are what you use when you can’t think of what to say, to fill that void of silence because you think you have to. Guess what? You don’t.

I call these killer words because they kill the most valuable asset you have, your time.

I once saw a lady on TV, doing a live interview, who used over 70 of these “ah, um, well, but, so, like…” words and it was horrendous. Go here and give it a listen. I challenge you to make it thru 37 seconds without turning it down: https://www.gettothedamnpoint.com

Here’s how you get rid of them:

Stop! Drop! And Pause!

From your elementary school days, if you catch fire, you “stop, drop and roll”. It’s ingrained in your brain. When your brain is on fire, your mouth just can’t keep up and you are burning through filler words, here is what you do:

Stop. Just shut-up. Stop talking. You feel it, you know these things are coming; you just don’t let them get from brain to mouth.

Drop. Drop the killer word, killer phrase or crutch word right then, just shove it out of your head.

Pause. Silence is golden because it has value. Pausing allows for the audience to think about what you just said and allows you to think about what you are saying. Don’t fear the silence. Glance at your notes at this point. The audience doesn’t know what you are about to say so, to them, this pause is there for a reason.

But here’s the real trick to it all: Do this all the time, every day. If you remove these fillers from your daily speech, they will be gone in your presentations. You will save time, be more credible and clearer.

Rehearse

“Oh, I’ll just wing it” are five deadly presentation words.

Not having a defined idea of what you are going to say leads to trailing off and simply not getting to the point as quickly, efficiently and as effectively as needed. It’s going to increase the number of filler/killer words and completely water down what you are trying to say. And if you are relying on that slide deck, it can get even worse.

What happens when that tech junkyard dog bites you and your slide deck goes down? The brakes and steering just went out on your presentation and you are bound to crash.


Know your stuff. Whether you write it out and memorize some or all of it; whether it’s in note form; or you just rehearse it so much you know what you are going to say. It can be a blend of these things.

Remember that it’s not a recital. If you memorize, don’t be monotone and rote. It’s called a speech not a reading. Glance at your notes but don’t carry them around. It makes you look unprofessional.

Record Yourself

The surefire method for knowing how much you use killer words, killer phrases and crutch words is to record yourself speaking when you rehearse. I would encourage you to record yourself when giving a presentation as well. That doesn’t mean just a formal one, but in other conversations, phone calls or meetings.

Then go back and listen to it. Time it for one minute and see how many of these words are in there. The average person does it 5 times a minute, that’s every 12 seconds, and even that is too much. Make notes of where it happened and try to figure out WHY it happened. Did you lose your train of thought? Forget a point? Are you using notes or trying to memorize? Can you not get off the page without those words sliding in?

By now, the chances are high you are starting to hear yourself say them and that’s a good thing. Once you start to hear it you won’t be able to un-hear it in yourself or others. I challenge you to become a better listener and hear other people saying them.

Try this: The next time someone is speaking, have pen and paper handy and every time you hear these killer words (including drawn out words) make a mark. Tally this tic sheet at the end and see what you get. Once you tune into that and hear how annoying and wasteful these are, you will become more aware of it in your own speaking pattern.

The Nose Punch

You know the drill. You go to present something and you start off saying, “Thank you very much. Ben, I really appreciate this opportunity to address this group today. Charlie, I want to say a personal thank you for helping me get the tech squared away. This is a lovely facility here isn’t it? Be sure to tip your servers.”

Guess what? NOBODY GIVES A SHIT!

When you start any presentation, you need to punch the audience in the nose. Come out with something that grabs their attention. It can be a hard nose punch or a soft one. It can be loud, it can be quiet, but it needs to let them know they need to listen to you.

In the movie industry, it’s said you have 10 minutes to capture your audience, that’s ten pages of script. In presentations and speaking, you have 10 seconds. Don’t waste it with thank you’s. Do that later.

I have a friend who died and the medical staff managed to bring her back to life. I told her, for the rest of her life if anyone asks “how are you” she should respond with “Well, I was dead once, but I got better.” Imagine if she was to speak and that was her open.

What can you do with your topic to insure they are listening from word one? That’s a nose punch.

How To Ease Your Nerves

Do NOT picture me in my underwear. You will regret it. That’s the worst advice anyone could ever give someone to calm them down when presenting , be it for one or one thousand. Can you imagine? You look out and see someone you would never want to see like that and, suddenly, you see them like that! Or, equally distracting, you see someone you would like to see like that and you do.

I spent years training TV reporters and I taught them all the same thing when going live. This advice will help you in the social media world too. I told them to talk to me. I was there, right behind the camera. Just act like they are having a conversation with me and ignore the fact that thousands were watching.

The equivalent for you is to find the face of a friend in the crowd, if one is there. If not, find a friendly face. If you can’t see the audience, since people on virtual meetings often turn off their camera, then imagine a friend you are talking to. If you do this, it will calm you and make you not stammer as much and give you more confidence.

Forbes said “What is the value of a great presentation? The amount of the deal you are trying to win. What is the cost of a terrible presentation? Same thing.”

I hope these tips helped and you understand why you, or your team, need GET TO THE DAMN POINT!

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Lewis D.Chaney, Founder/ CEO of GET TO THE DAMN POINT, LLC, is a TEDX Alumni, Award winning Speaker, Photojournalist and Director with an extensive background in Television News, Entertainment News, Commercial Advertising and Independent Film.