Getting People to Listen by Saying Less

Have you ever had something important to say and before you get to the main point people switch off?
What about people being confused by what you say?
Do you take a long time to get to the point?

Well, I must confess that I do like to talk and I am a story teller. Though there are many positives with being a story teller, it can wear thin at times on other people and it is not always the best way to deliver a message. There is an old saying “less is more”.

So what does this mean?

We as humans listen with all our senses. We take in the visual, the audio and the kinetic environment. This means that as someone listens to you they are processing a lot more than just your words. This is fine if your entertaining them and are just trying to hold their attention. A well told story can do that. However if you are trying to deliver an important message which requires the other person to think, digested, respond or interact then a different approach is required.

Firstly, you need to be clear on what the message is. We have all seen people who are not clear on the material they are presenting. It does not turn out well for them. So what is your message? Make the message as simple as possible. Again an oldie but a goodie “KISS – Keep It Simple Silly”. If the message is complex then break it into digestible pieces.

Secondly, plan on how you will deliver the message. Will you deliver the message using audio, visually or kinetic means? Remember that communication is 7% Verbal, 38% Vocal and 55% Visual (see the article “Communication Basics”). So using a mixture of means will have the best impact. However here are two points on this. Firstly the different methods have to be in sync with each other and secondly keep it simple (KISS). Make sure that when talking about a topic it is the same topic being displayed in front of them. ie if discussing sales figures for the first quarter then ensure the graph you are showing is of sales in the first quarter.

Next, ensure that the other person has an opportunity to ask questions and clarify points. So keep your talking to the key points of the message and then let the other person ask questions. This we allow the other person to get the message clear in their head.

And finally when the other person has finished asking questions. It is time to confirm they got the message.  I find the easiest way to do this is by asking questions of the other person on the key points of the message. If you get the right answers back then the message has been delivered. Else you may have some more work in delivering the message.

So next time you have a message to deliver remember that “less is more”. In summary to get people to listen to you say less by:

1. Be clear on your message
2. Plan the delivery of the message
3. Let the other person ask questions
4. Ask confirming questions

Other related articles:
Communication Basics
The “5 W’s” of Mission
Communication with Personality


Created by: Attila Ovari
©Attila & Kim Ovari2012. The content of this Article may be reproduced with permission of the author. Correct as at 14 December 2012


  1. I’m a talker and story-teller too…have to have the details. I know I’m talking too much if the listener gets a glazed look in their eye. Quickly stop and get to the point. Watch the listener for clues they are checkin’ out.

    I know I irritate the heck out of some people. I asked you this, and are you ever going to answer my question?


  2. Very understandable and digestible ! A wll spoken message 🙂

  3. Sometimes we all forget that communication is a two way street. Great message. 🙂

  4. That is really very good. Whenever I try to talk, no one stops to let me speak so I end up forgetting what I have to say, hehehe!

  5. Wonderful coaching for those of us who are more on the expressive side! I also learned this week that studies show we can only absorb 10-12 minutes of content at a time so it is important to plan a break in the delivery of sharing information by asking questions, obtaining feeback etc..

  6. Good idea regarding complex messages especially.

  7. Thanks for the great reminder; you presented it in just the way it’s meant to be delivered…simply and to the point.

  8. Good evening Attila,
    I hope the world will read your post and learn from it. Sad to say that in reality these basics of communication are often ignored or should I say not learned.
    Wouldn’t it be interesting to find out the reasons why so many people don’t REALLY listen to each other?
    My English is not good enough to take part in this philosophic discussion but I would like to do it.
    You blog stimultates thinking about relevant things. Thanks.
    Was this message short and simple enough?

  9. 100 percent agree brother

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