to Decision Makers
The Prescott Group
Cut To The Chase -- PLEASE!
by Roberta Prescott
Do you take too long to explain an issue or make a point? Do you
ever get to the point? Do you know so much about a topic that you
don't know what to leave out -- so you talk faster to try and get
it all in?
EXCESS WORDS DILUTE YOUR IMPACT.
Why do people over explain?
- They get mired in details
- They talk while they’re thinking
- They feel they’re not being thorough if they don’t
tell you everything
- It’s easier. A short focused message takes
time to design
many high level meetings, the key listeners are NOT interested in:
- A lengthy background
- How it works
- How you figured out a solution
- All the facts and data
they want are:
- The most pertinent and essential details in order to make a decision
- What’s the business outcome
- What’s your interpretation of the facts
- What are your conclusions
It takes discipline to be succinct. You must synthesize information
and condense, not expand; and you need a crisp delivery style to
reinforce your message.
1. DESIGN A LEAN CLEAR MESSAGE
- Think it through, or write it down, before speaking.
- Let go of the details. Edit, edit, edit.
- Give us the 2-minute synopsis, not the 10-minute monologue.
- Get to the nub of the issue quickly and make your point.
- What is my position / opinion / point of view?
- What's in it for them? The benefits?
- What do I want? Buy-in? A decision? Input?
- What action is required?
- Put your core message in headline form.
- "I see no risk to the program right now."
- "We are not in a cost plus business"
have 2 years to maintain a strategic advantage."
dealing with 3 crises, and I need your help on 2."
- Use key phrases to flag important information.
- "Here's what I did, and this is what I learned."
- "Our overall results are ...
- "The significant point is ... "
- "This is what I think, and why I'm thinking that
way ... "
- "This is what needs to be done, and here's why ...
- "The cost savings will be ...
- "The engine / product is ready to go because
- "This is what we need to do, how we're going to
do it, what resources we'll need and how much it will
- Go off on tangents. You'll be perceived as rambling.
- Go through a list of tasks item by item without differentiating
the ones that are mission critical
2. DELIVER YOUR MESSAGE CRISPLY
- Shorten the length of your sentences. (On average 14-17
- Add short punchy sentences among your longer ones.
- e.g., " ... our research indicates that
our 3 strongest competitors plan to buy new business
short-term by lowering their price. HERE'S WHAT WE
NEED TO DO ... "
- Kill the connectors “and”, “but” and “so”. They
cause endlessly long sentences.
- Eliminate filler phrases such as "to say that another
way ... "
- Pause to set up an important point. e.g., "This
is what we've done ... AND IT SAVED ...
These tips will give your words impact and authority.
The Prescott Group