Have you been in a situation where you ask a question to someone, expecting an answer in a sentence or two, but you actually ended up listening to a 15, 20 or even a 30 minute sermon, only to wonder in the end, “What was it about?”
I was recently helping one of my Toastmasters mentees in preparation for the 3rd speech project which is interestingly called, “Get To The Point”. This project is about helping the speaker deliver a 5 to 7 minute long speech which delivers a clear message. The speech must have a clearly defined objective and the speaker must remain focused on the objective throughout the speech, until the end.
But, is it important only to public speaking?
Not really, although I learnt this concept for the first time when I prepared to give my speech with this objective. It really did help me understand the mistakes I was making in day-to-day business.
Not Getting To The Point In Time Can Be Costly
This is from personal experience. I’ve been guilty of not getting to the point and losing business, losing opportunities. I remember explaining about a product or service to my prospects to death. I have lost some good business simply because I couldn’t get to the point when I should have.
How many times have you seen sales people lose sales because they keep talking about various wonderful features of their products before even learning what the customer is looking for? If they could just pause to understand what the customer needs and explain how their product can help their customer achieve their goal, people would buy from them all day long.
The Salesman Who Was Into Feature Selling
Napoleon Hill told an incredible and real story in his book, “Think And Grow Rich” around this topic. The story was about Andrew Carnegie's mother who went into a store to purchase a small furnace.
The salesman who approached her to assist then proceeded to give her an overview of all the great features the product had. He explained everything from design to technology used, to energy efficiency and quality of construction. He explained everything to his satisfaction and he was very enthusiastic about it. Finally, when he was done talking, Mr. Carnegie’s mother asked, "Will it keep a little old lady warm?"
Now, that is a great example of a salesman who didn’t do a good job of understanding a customer’s point of view. When you don’t understand what the other person’s view point is, like the salesman in the story, you can’t get to the point. I have ended up wasting my time and other people’s times on numerous occasions because I didn’t understand the objective and couldn’t remain focused.
Successful Entrepreneurs Get To The Point
Patience is something which is rapidly shrinking in our society in the world today where a microwave mentality prevails. Getting to the point quickly, is becoming more and more important for growth everywhere.
By everywhere, I mean everywhere. You can’t afford to take chances in an interview. If the interviewer is asking, “How is the weather” and you start explaining how it was yesterday and a week before and how you think the weather is going to be this season, most probably your interviewer will not be very impressed.
Similarly, with the competition in the marketplace, effective communication is the key to your success if you are an entrepreneur. You can’t afford to not provide the exact answer your prospect or customer is asking. You must be to the point, clear and effective in delivering your message. When you don’t do that, you lose business today more than ever.
To Be Prepared – Follow These Steps
Your opportunity is when you are speaking in front of an audience to inspire, motivate or persuade. Your opportunity to shine is when your prospect asks you a question about a product or a service that you offer. Opportunities are everywhere and you will be able to recognize it even more when you are prepared because success happens when preparedness meets opportunity.
The question is, what are you doing to be prepared? How are you preparing to shine when opportunity presents itself?
Here are five steps that I follow to prepare myself as soon as I know that I have to do a presentation. It not only helps me get ready to get to the point when I have plenty of time but also when I have been given a short notice as well. I hope you will find it helpful:
1. Believe In Yourself
Nothing happens until you believe in yourself. Some of us are very good at believing in other people but when it comes to believing in ourselves, we seem to lack self-confidence. This is vital to your success. When you don’t believe in yourself, how are you going to make others believe in your message? Self-confidence is the key. Build it.
2. Know Your Specific Objective
Usually you are aware of the topic well before you are presented with the opportunity. For example, if you are going to meet a new prospective client, you should get to know about their business objectives well before you go there. You should know how you and your product/service are going to help their business.
Similarly, if you know you are going for a job interview, you should know exactly how you can help your new prospective employer achieve their business objectives. The better prepared you are, the better chances you have of coming out as a winner.
If you are going to give a speech in front of an audience (such as in your office, shareholders, or even in a seminar), know about your audience, their needs and prepare your talk accordingly.
Know your objective, know your subject matter and prepare your material well before you go to perform.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice
You may have heard the saying that “practice makes a man perfect.” Well, it does. The best way to run a marathon is to practice it consistently. Similarly, the best way to be a great speaker is to practice your speech often. The best way to get good at selling something is to practice selling often, face rejection and attempt again. The more you practice, the better you get at it.
I like to practice my speech at least 3 times (as much as possible) before I deliver it in front of an audience. I have also seen some tremendous speakers practice their speeches for hours before they deliver and when they do, they leave their audience enthralled.
This is the best thing I have found to be helpful more than anything else. It helps me taking care of all the other steps as well.
4. Be Bold, Speak Confidently
When you finally get to the show time, your voice plays a very important role. You must not only be confident on the inside, but your voice should exhibit that. Your voice must show that confidence, that boldness. When you speak out loud and clear with confidence, the world listens. Try it. Next time when you are ready to give a presentation, just raise your voice, speak out loud. You will be amazed the impact you will have on your listeners.
5. Learn From Mistakes
Will you succeed every time? Probably not. But this will be part of your practice. Every time you fail to meet your objectives, look back and find out what mistakes you committed this time.
Find out those mistakes and be diligent about correcting them the next time you are ready to do a similar job. Learn from your mistakes, don’t repeat them and pretty soon you will see amazing results. I have committed some mistakes, learned from them and I have been amazed on many occasions. I am sure you will see similar results when you practice this as well.
Over To You – Share Your Thoughts
How do you feel when you don’t get the answer you are looking for when somebody takes too long to get to the point in response to your question? Are you able to communicate your feelings effectively? What method do you use?
Please share your thoughts in the comments and add value. Thank you kindly!
Excellent topic and I can relate to many instances when I was given a topic to speak in front of an audience. But I ended up speaking about something else. Why? Because I wasn’t prepared. I did not get to the point and ate up all my time. Things have improved a lot since those days. Yet this is very helpful tip.
Correct Snigdha mam. This is very helpful to me too. I am facing this problem these days a lot. Whenever I am selling something, I am unable to ask for a sale. I keep talking other things and hesitate to get to the point. It has caused pain to me so many times. This is a great post for me.
Like Snigdha said and also I mentioned, we all go through these challenges in the beginning. But it will get better when you persist and learn from your mistakes. Practice will make you perfect. Keep on keeping on and you will get better! Good luck to you my friend!
This is an incredible information. We do business meetings every week and train our members to speak confidently, speak with power. This information is going to help us improve in a few areas for sure. This is very helpful. Thank you for writing on this topic brother!
Absolutely Mayank. These tips are from my personal experience and you know how important it is for us to give the answer in a positive manner when a prospect asks for some information. This has helped me tremendously and I am sure it is going to help your team! Good luck to you guys!
This article is truly inspiring and well-written article on good effective communication. I would like to thanks Mr. Kumar for this post as I am currently looking for some inspiration post regarding the same topic and indeed I found here.
Back to your question:
“How do you feel when you don’t get the answer you are looking for when somebody takes too long to get to the point in response to your question?”
I doubt if he/she get the question or not. If not then why and what he is speaking 🙂
Thank you again!
That’s right Ranjan ji. It is frustrating at times when we don’t get the answer and simply because the other person isn’t getting to the point quickly, we also begin to doubt their integrity (even though they may not be trying to hide something), isn’t it?
That’s true. Mr. Kumar… that is why we say “effective communication” is key of success!
Hi Gauraw !
In a quest to learn about marketing , i developed a software and sold it to few local shops..I did a lot of research on the internet , read many articles which revolved around these 2 points -> Get To The Point and explain the product in depth ..the customer should be able to understand the software.. i followed these 2 strategies and it worked for me . Now, i’m trying to build a strong online platform which can generate decent amount of money as well as help me to market my future softwares..as online marketing is much better than hiring salesman as the world is going digital .
That’s absolutely incredible testimonial Pramod. Thank you for sharing. Especially in online marketing world, it is even more important. Good luck to you!
Thanks for reminding me that listening and answering directly plays a main role in communication. Even I know that, sometimes I forget, so this post is a very good reminder:)
Awesome Aistis. Glad to hear from you again. We all go through the phase where we tend to forget some basics. By sharing these tips, actually I reminded myself of the same. Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts my friend!
Thanks for sharing one more incredible topic.. I personally have experienced some of the examples you highlighted.. Great tips and i can see some of the points where i can personally focus..
You are very welcome Rajendra. I know you are making progress day after day! Keep up your great work!
I’d be surprised if this hasn’t happened to someone, I think everyone has encountered someone who just drove us nuts never getting around to answering the question we asked in the first place.
Confession time I guess…I’ve done this in the past myself. After coming online I did this in my first opportunity because I was so nervous and not exactly qualified to answer their questions so I beat around the bush way too much. Not being properly trained on what you should say is what a lot of people encounter as newbies. It’s sad but so true.
I hated the term salesman and I really looked at most people in this way so that in itself was such a turnoff for me. But once I learned the proper questions to ask I was really embarrassed at just how easy it really way. I mean that’s what I would want someone to say to me!
Great post and example Kumar so thank you for sharing this with us. Have a wonderful week now.
Thank you for coming to share a few thoughts. I know you always have great things to share as I saw yesterday from your posts and comments.
As you said rightly, if we have ever been in business, we have gone though the phase where we just wouldn’t get to the point and smetimes, even if we know we have to, we go in circles just to avoid coming to the point 🙂 I’ve been there…. it still happens sometimes. But hey, we are all work in progress. Getting better and better with each day passing.
I look forward to your posts and to get to know you better!
Its good to be back, haven’t read your blog for some time. I really miss it. This one is really helpful. Recently, I was able to spoke in front of crowd around 50 people to promote Toastmasters here in Tripoli. I practiced a lot even recorded myself in front of the camera but I guess it’s not yet my time to shine. God is preparing for something bigger. Good thing, I found that experience really helpful. The next time, I will more confident and straight to the point. Keeping an eye on the target.
Thanks a lot,
What great advice! I love the story about the Little Old Lady! Our insurance policies in the US are undergoing changes. In my state, I have a choice.
I was in the drug store just yesterday and there was a man to explain all about the differences between the Government insurance and the State insurance. Of course he was from the Government. Now I know it is a complicated issue and he wanted to set up an appointment with me to come over to my home to explain it all.
So, my marketing cap was on. I asked him “Get to the point!” Give me two ball park figures of each insurance and I’ll decide if I want to sit down and talk to you. He was befuddled! “No one ever asked me that” he said.
I told him to write down exactly the questions I wanted answered. He did..see I took control he he. Then I said that I would only want to know this information and that is all. (I had a long list) Sweat started pouring from his brow. He surely was not ready.
I told him to read Napoleon Hill. He never heard of the book. I also said that if he wanted to sell anything, he needed to show more confidence and not give people such a vague idea.
So there you have it! I took charge of this poor man, but he will come over on Monday. I will not give him ANY financial information…just ball parks… So lets see what happens.
Wow! Can you imagine what kind of training a companies give to their sales people and how much sales people themselves are serious about their own career if they don’t even know who Napoleon Hill was? Absolutely amazing times we love in today!
Thank you for sharing your story and adding value. I hope you get a good deal when this gentleman shows up 🙂
I must say this is a well researched piece, Communicating effectively is one of the main goal of anyone who wants to standout and be a good sales person or a good public speaker. I must say i agree with the tips you have give, Practice like they say makes one close to perfection so constant practice would sure help anyone improve. When you speak boldly and confidently you make anyone who is listening believe in you the more and want to know what next you have to say. There is nothing more like knowing your specific objective, you should always know what you want to achieve and lastly learning from your mistakes makes you better but i hate learning from my mistake hence i listen to people tell me their story and i learn from theirs.
Thanks for sharing.