I’ve been invited to talk to a group of emerging leaders in a week from now, on a topic that their mentors recognise as missing: speaking succinctly.

I don’t often know why I’m speaking, let alone what the point is. I beat around the bush. I speak in metaphors no one seems to understand at first, so I spend time explaining what the metaphor was. I’m so busy thinking a reply to the person speaking that I forget to listen. Because I’ve not listened, I misinterpret what was being said while attempting to pretend that I understood. And on and on.

Early in my career, I was lucky to be handed a couple of audiobooks by two master craftsmen of the spoken word: Bob Proctor and Jim Rohn. I listened to their talks on repeat on my drive to and back from work. I listened to them so many times that I could recite their talks verbatim.  Some ideas made perfect sense. Others took a while, sometimes even years.

For me, Jim Rohn’s message boiled down to this: “Have something good to say. Then say it well.” 

Sincerity. Repetition. Brevity. Style. Vocabulary.

It’s what you say, and how you say it.