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How to be less talkative/more concise

Anonymous A asked on Dec 09, 2018 - 4 answers

Hi Community,

I’d like some practical advice, particularly if you’ve gone through something similar. I’m very self-aware which is great because I can realize when there is something I need to change, but I need help with implementation. I’m a talker. I am often silent/quiet/etc. and work independently, but when I get into a nice conversation I notice (and I’m sure others do too) that I talk too much. I’m good at asking questions, listening fully, and engaging with the other person, but I often feel that I dominate the conversation. I believe this stems from spending a lot of time in my younger years with people with whom a conversation would never flow.

When networking with people from MBBa at events I’m often told something like “It’s really been nice talking with you today, most of the other conversations I’ve had have been 20 questions, like trying to pull teeth” and I easily make good connections in person. I know I’m a good conversationalist, but I would like to learn to be more concise and not ramble, and I know this is key to being a consultant, especially in interviews/meetings/with clients/etc.

For example, if I am telling a story I would like to be concise and clear, whereas now I am that person where my mind makes sense (to me) but often throws in little (predominantly irrelevant) side stories that are unnecessary. I’m trying very hard to be conscious of this, but if anyone else has dealt with something similar I’d love to know how.

I have several telephone informational interviews set up later this week and want to do my best, and any tips would be welcome. I really want to improve this aspect of my personality as it would help both my professional and personal life, and I appreciate the advice.

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Benjamin replied on Dec 10, 2018
ex-Manager - Natural and challenging teacher - Taylor case solving, no framework
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Your question itslef illustrate well your abitlity to talk as well : you took 23 lines where the same question could have been asked in Max 3 lines :)

First of all we need to differenciate two mode of communication :

- conversational mode : establish contact with people, do whatever it takes, but it seems you are alredy good the

- working mode : be sharp and conscise, to the point. Avoid wasting time in prononcing unessary word. This is were you need to focus your effort.

My reco to sharpen your "working mode communication

- keep in mind time is constrained, so go directly to the point

- stay structured in your conversation : context + what you have done. If the conversation derives, go back to your structure

- be factual : announcing fact is usual shorter and more impacting and don't require overcommenting

- Listen twice as much as you speak

Hope this will help



Oleksandr (Alex)
replied on Dec 09, 2018
Very experienced ex-McKinsey consultant with cross-country expertise
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Hey there,

Well, that was one of my largest problems before McKinsey. When you arrive there - you need to be sharp. I have three life-changing advices for you:

1. Think what you want to say first. Be very specific about the "core" of your question.

2. Avoid 2nd tier questions. Only ask those, which are important enablers for your understanding. That's the only "why you ask" anything. Use ABC method to prioritize your questions and look for potential interlinks and implicit assumptions.

3. Use precise wording when you approach another person with a question.

To wrap up: after a conversation with you your interlocutor shall have a nice aftertaste similar to that from reading a good book or drinking a glass of a nice wine .

updated his answer on Dec 11, 2018
Experienced strategy consultant, now running own consulting business
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I can totally relate. Same here...

What I can recommend is advice by experienced journalists or interviewers on how to interview people. Not that you are always interviewing, but it teaches tricks that you can use to get the others to talk.

This may be a good starting point:

Or here, if you go to minute 26:




replied on Dec 10, 2018
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Man has 2 ears and one mouth, so listen twice as much as you talk

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