No, we’re not out to destroy you

The Australian prime minister and the New South Wales premier share a singular speaking style in front of the media. It amounts to this:

Talk fast, don’t pause, snatch your breaths, keep going for exactly ten minutes, and when you’ve finished, abruptly turn away from the microphone and leave.

Where on earth did this habit come from, Scott Morrison and Gladys Berejiklian? Surely the parliamentary debating chambers.

SQUASH THE OPPOSITION

Rattling on non-stop means that opposition members have no opportunity to interject, and if they try, their voices are drowned out by the speaker.

But listen, leaders. The media won’t heckle or interrupt while you’re speaking. They’ll pay respectful attention. Given the opportunity (which they often aren’t), they’ll ask their questions when you’ve finished.

Please, Scott and Gladys, don’t talk to us as if we’re out to destroy your ten minutes in the sun. Ease up. Smile occasionally. And when you’ve finished, thank us for listening.

We’ll end up thanking you.

Use it to persuade a stranger

The phone is a great but forgotten business tool. It lets you chat informally with people and communicate warmth, while picking up the nuances of their speech.

The more I replace phone talk with email or text, the less cooperation I find. Despite the use of emojis, written words are coolly transactional and don’t convey the human touch.

You can’t sell as successfully by email as in person or by phone. Even when using the phone for that purpose, it’s best not to leave a voicemail asking for a return call. What works is to say, “sorry I missed you, will try again”.

Anything that shifts the onus onto the other person is likely to reduce your chance of success.

Text and email are wonderful for associates, friends and family. But when trying to persuade or convince a stranger, nothing beats the human face or voice.

Say less – and persuade more

The more words we use to say or write something, the less convincing we become.

Persuasive writers and speakers are succinct. They use the minimum number of sentences needed to convey their message. They know that using more will dilute the effect they’re seeking, or create an impression that they’re insecure in their verbal abilities.

Along with saying less, it’s also a good idea to slow the pace. In oral formats, this gives the impression of gravity and significance. Insecure speakers have a tendency to gabble and to blur their words, undermining authoritativeness.

In written formats, pace can be governed by appropriate word choice. Readers pause for thought over the correctly chosen word. They skim through material that doesn’t hit the nail.

The best writers and speakers say what they need to, then stop. Silence allows the message to sink in. It also gives readers and listeners the opportunity to respond, which they are grateful for.

Enough said.