Whether you’re giving a presentation or advocating for a two-week vacation, the way you stick the landing can make all the difference when it comes to outcome. Or so says Stacia Crawford, CEO and founder of Stay Ready Media, a public relations firm that offers media training to help clients hone their communication skills.
As she explains, a rambler who responds to questions with a series of disorganized thoughts is less likely to clearly articulate their point, and ultimately less likely to get what they want. For example: when asking for a raise, a rambler might take 10 minutes before getting to their desired dollar amount, or might trail off after starting it, kinda sorta mumbling about the cost of daycare tuition.
On the flip side, a closer leaves everyone with a clear and concise understanding of their point or message. “It’s the difference between putting a period at the end of your sentence vs. raising the inflection of your voice as you wind down the argument you’re trying to make,” Crawford says. “The latter makes you sound unsure and gives the impression that you are asking a question instead of making a statement.”
So how do you behave more like a closer when your subconscious is steering you toward rambling? Crawford offers these suggestions:
1. Make Your Point and Stop Talking.
As hard as it to do this, block yourself from reiterating or repeating the point you’ve already said. For high stakes conversations (like a presentation or 1:1 with your boss), try to keep your responses to about 30 seconds. “When your responses are short and to-the-point, others are less likely to feel the need to paraphrase and your words are less likely to be taken out of context or misunderstood,” Crawford says.
2. Slow down your speech.
Talking too fast gives the impression of nervousness and it makes the listener work harder to keep up with your thoughts. Per Crawford, “When you speak at a slower pace, say 150 to 160 words per minute, your message has a greater chance of being heard, understood and remembered.”
3. Banish the filler words.
This is going to require practice, but phrases such as “um,” “like,” and “I don’t know…” can make you appear less confident. “I tell my clients to write topics on slips of paper and place them in an empty jar,” Crawford says. “Randomly choose a slip and talk about that topic for one minute straight, trying not to use filler words.” Another tactic? Record yourself ahead of time. “It raises your awareness and shows where you might need more practice.”