Learn to shut up: 6 ways to speak more concisely

The Staver Group –

Have you ever been in a conversation with a person who has already made his point but just won't let it go? Worse yet, are you that person?

Some people love the sound of their own voices, says Mike Staver, coach, professional speaker, and author of "Do You Know How to Shut Up? And 51 Other Life Lessons That Will Make You Uncomfortable". Other people simply chatter out of nervousness or because they are uncomfortable with silence. Either way, it's annoying and counterproductive.

"It's a problem that can affect practically any adult," insists Staver. "Parents notoriously say I am only going to say this once and then proceed to lecture until the kid's eyes glaze over. Bosses drone on and on in a meeting when their points could have been made in five minutes. Politicians answer yes-or-no questions with a monologue on everything but the answer."

Shutting up is a valuable skill to learn in business, in personal relationships -- really, in all areas of life. "By shutting up once in a while, you will appear more confident and intelligent to everyone you come in contact with," says Staver. "Plus, it's amazing how much you can learn when you stop running your mouth."

Do you want to learn how to just shut up once and for all? Keep reading for some of Staver's tips -- excerpted from his (appropriately) concise and to-the-point book -- on speaking your mind in a brief and highly efficient manner.

1. Be clear with yourself about what you are attempting to communicate.

2. Share with the person (when it isn't obvious) what you want to accomplish.

3. Avoid, at all costs, getting distracted by other issues, ideas, points, stories, and so forth.

4. Use talk-ending techniques like:

a. Saying, "So, what are the next steps?"

b. Using an example that sums things up (if it is a public presentation). (Then stop.)

c. Focusing on getting to the end of what you have to say in minimal time.

d. Using as few words as possible.

5. Give information in an amount the listener can reasonably digest -- not the amount you personally feel compelled to share.

6. Ask someone you know and trust to give you feedback on the volume of words you use, the degree to which you are clear, and the degree to which you are concise. It is very important that you are both.

"It really is that simple," concludes Staver. "Once you become comfortable speaking less and in effect getting your information across better, shutting up will come naturally even to the most long-winded person. Start practicing today. You will become much less annoying and much more effective. Shutting up can change your life!"

About the Book:

"Do You Know How to Shut Up? And 51 Other Life Lessons That Will Make You Uncomfortable" (Mac Daddy Publishing, 2008, ISBN: 978-0-9801857-0-6, $14.95) is available at bookstores nationwide and from major online booksellers. For more information, please visit The Staver Group.  

This story, "Learn to shut up: 6 ways to speak more concisely" was originally published by ITworld.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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