How to Be Clear & Concise

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Have you ever sat in a meeting or listened to a presentation, silently wishing that everybody in the room would just get to the point so that you could all get back to work?

I think it’s safe to assume that nobody has ever wished that workplace meetings and presentations would go on longer than necessary.

That got me thinking about how important it is that we learn to express our ideas as clearly and concisely as possible. If you are struggling with English, don’t worry because you do not need to have perfect grammar to speak this way.

You can use these five tips to communicate your points concisely, even if you struggle with the English language.

Watch the episode here.

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Tip 1: Think before speaking

Ask yourself, “What is the one thing I want to say, and how can I say it in as few words as possible?”

Having a pen and paper to jot down your thoughts can help you to crystallise your main point. While thinking it through, keep your listener in mind.

You need to consider the following:

  • Who is your audience and how much or how little do they know about your topic?
    This will help you sort through the important facts and leave out irrelevant details, eliminating unnecessary “fluff” or extra information that detracts from the main point.
  • What do they need to know or do?
    Knowing this will help you to communicate the necessary action steps.
  • Why is it important for them to hear your message?
    Understanding this can help you design your message to appeal to either their intellect or emotions, or both.
 

Then formulate your key message into one to three sentences because these will be the first things you will say as your opening.

 
Tip 2: Get to the point as quickly as possible

When it’s time to speak, make your point front and centre. You must aim to grab the attention of your listener as quickly as possible.

For example, if your boss asks when Project A can be completed, instead of being long-winded: “I’m sorry, I can’t have the project done until early next week because I’ve got so much on my plate right now,” just answer the question with, “It’ll be done by Monday.”

You may add context if your boss needs to hear it. Just don’t give a one-word answer as that can make you sound quite rude.

Do aim to speak using the fewest words possible and leave out irrelevant facts.

 
Tip 3: Pause purposefully

If you do need to elaborate, use pauses powerfully and purposefully.

Pausing to separate key ideas will help your listeners process the information better. But do avoid pausing in the middle of a thought, as this can be difficult for your listeners to absorb the information.

 
Tip 4: Use common everyday words

Although we at My English Matters teach English and advanced vocabulary in our courses, we advocate using straightforward English when speaking. Avoid using fancy words you can’t pronounce or don’t understand.

Unless, of course, you are in a speaking exam, and the examiners are assessing your wide range of vocabulary and your ability to use it accurately.

Other than that, use English that is appropriate for your audience. If you are struggling with English, make sure you stick to words that you know to avoid making embarrassing mistakes.

 
Tip 5: Practise speaking aloud

My favourite tip is to practise speaking aloud using your phone. Start with everyday topics and gradually move on to more challenging and even controversial subjects. Learn to stick to facts and refrain from speaking aimlessly. If you can receive feedback from loved ones and colleagues, that’s even better.

 

 

So, there you have it, five tips for speaking clearly and concisely. I hope this will inspire you as you continue your journey towards improving your English communication skills.

If you are interested in getting speaking practice and feedback, come join our Members Monthly programme where we host speaking practice sessions alongside grammar lessons online every month.

See you in the next lesson.

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Hi there!

We’re Azimah, Amnah and Aisya from Malaysia. We created My English Matters as an online platform to help people improve their English.

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