Thursday, March 7, 2013

Take 'em the short way

As if filler words like "like", "you know", and "I mean" weren't enough to make a listener's job harder, now presenters are throwing "sort of" and "kind of" around all over the place, peppering sentences and confusing the heck out of those of us desperately trying to follow them.  It's enough to make an audience member's hair hurt.  In working with a few of those guilty of this kind of meandering I've learned that they're intentions (as one would expect) are all good.  They don't want to be too direct, too pushy, too forceful.  by inserting "sort of"s and "Kind of"s into their sentences they feel they're making their message easier to absorb.  In fact, they're inadvertently making their message torture to follow.

Think about it;  you're following someone to their house at night.  They make two lefts, then a right, then another left and a quick right.  You've no earthly idea where you are - terrified you're going to lose them when they suddenly turn into their driveway.  Walking to their door you suddenly realize you've taken a very long way to go a very short way.  Why? you ask your host. "Oh," he replies, "It's only two turns on major roads and one third the time to get here, but I thought you'd like to go the back way."  Seriously?!?

The same is true with presentations.  Don't beat around the bush, don't worry about being direct.  DON'T run the risk of losing your audience!  Take 'em the short way.  They won't be bored, offended and most of all, they won't be lost.  And you'll be heard.