15 Dec 2018 16:15 IST

Brevity, a habit that needs to be cultivated

No one in a corporate scenario has the time or patience to sit through long-winded communication

I teach at several business schools so correcting answer sheets comes with the territory. I’ve noticed a common pattern when it comes to the way students write answer. Someone who knows the subject and understands the question gives an answer that is to the point and precise. Depending on the writing style, some students may embellish their answers with additional statements or details. On the other hand, a student who doesn’t know the answer writes in great detail, even if it has little or absolutely no relevance to the question.

It is, therefore, quite easy to spot answer sheets which have no content as compared to those that do. The same logic applies in a corporate scenario. Anyone making a presentation will be able to hold the attention of the audience if their content is solid. This is something that my mentors taught me and has helped me a lot.

To not waste time

One of my mentors would cut short any presentation that started off stating the obvious or if the presenter started to beat around the bush. He would ask the presenter to get to the point and if that did not happen, he would get up and leave. Soon, we realised that we cannot take his time and attention for granted and improved our presentation skills.

During an informal chat, he explained the rationale behind his approach, which could be construed as abrupt and rude. He said that even a jobless person does not like to be bored and waste their time listening to someone ramble. In a corporate scenario, where everyone has multiple tasks and deadlines, a presenter has an obligation to share specific, meaningful information in a crisp manner.

The majority of corporate presentations and meetings are not like this and tend to meander, invariably wasting everyone’s time. However, let me state without any doubt that brief meetings are extremely effective. Several organisations encourage stand-up meetings and presentations based on the simple logic that people will not stand for long periods of time, especially when the content is not to the point. I was amazed when I attended one such meeting and realised how effective it can be.

Learned habit

The key is brevity in communication. Three things are required to be precise:

* Understanding of the subject

* Detailed preparation of the communication

* Practice

Unfortunately, the education system does not teach this and long-winded answers have become a habit with most people. As a management student, you should realise that no one in a corporate scenario has the time or patience to sit through any long-winded communication. Brevity in communication is a habit that needs to be cultivated.