Whether you are giving an elevator pitch, doing a job interview, tweeting, or answering a question, getting to the point is essential. In today’s fast-paced culture, people expect a quick answer before they invest more in you, your idea, or your organization. Here are some tips to distinguish yourself by organizing your thinking into concise statements.
1. Plan Ahead. There are questions you get often about your job, your home town, your family, and your ideas. Additionally, you can probably guess what types of questions you will get at a job interview, a reception, a panel discussion on a certain topic, or at a family gathering. One way to be more concise is to write out the points you want to make on a paper and then narrow down and consolidate them into 2 or 3 points. For example, one of the most common job interview inquiries is about your previous work experience. List out several items you want to highlight and then consolidate them into a short response. This will help you give a short, targeted response instead of fumbling and trying to think of an answer on the spot.
2. Practice. Ask a group of friends or family to listen to your short answer or elevator pitch and critique you. Then repeat with another group, preferably people who are not associated with the earlier group and will give you some new ideas about how to better articulate your thought.
3. Learn from Experts. Daniel H. Pink has some out-of-the-box ideas on how to pitch your ideas in the 21st century. Watch this video to learn more about one word pitching, rhyming, questions, and other methods.
4. Get to the Point! What is the goal of your statement or question answer? In a job interview, your statement is convincing the listener that he or she should hire you. Does every word you say accomplish that purpose? I recently interviewed someone who took at least 2-3 minutes to answer each question, going on tangents, and repeating himself. Learn to get to the point quickly and without fluff.
I hope this column made its point quickly and efficiently!
Roger Custer is executive director of America’s Future Foundation. This post originally ran in summer 2013.