I was raised on sarcastic one-liners that resembled a stand-up comedy routine. It was an interesting way to grow up.
When I got older and started working in radio news, my mind and ear were trained for sound bites. What short, punchy gems will drive a message home?
Welcome to my world.
The digital space is exactly what I just described: One-liners that are compelling (and sometimes sarcastic), punchy, and message-driven. Everyone has to communicate in sound bites or those on the other end are off to another website, blog post, or video. There’s no room for verbosity in today’s world.
These three communication phrases will help you stay on message, improve your clarity, and grab the attention of others. Use them in meetings, blogs posts, emails, media interviews, and press releases. And yes, they’ll even work in your personal life. They are simple, but brilliant.
1. The goal is…
When someone in the elevator asks, “What’s your new project about?” You respond: “The goal is…” Then follow with a maximum of one or two sentences. Choose your words carefully. They’ll appreciate the distilled message. Your goal is to get the other person curious to know more.
2. The purpose is…
Follow up this expression with one line that describes the purpose of “whatever.” It should be direct, clear, and strong. There’s no room for stumbling or ending on a soft note. When using this tactic in a conversation, exude confidence and authority, and sprinkle in some humility and a smile.
3. The bottom line is…
Leave the sales pitch, business jargon, fluff, and bullshit for someone else. This phrase is about cutting to the chase and respecting people’s time. It can almost be delivered like it’s on the QT; a prized secret that you’re sharing only with this one person. When speaking with someone, lower your voice, and speak slowly.
Allow the recipient of your message to feel as though they have been hand-picked to learn the crucial details of “whatever.” Even when writing an e-mail or post that will be seen by multiple people, this phrase is powerful. It allows everyone to feel as if they are the only one on the receiving end. They are the chosen one.
As you put these expressions into practice, you’ll notice that your mind will slow down before you begin your follow-up line.
When weaving these phrases into your communication, it cues your reader or listener that they need to pay attention; something important and concise is coming that they simply can’t miss.
Here’s the bottom line:
We exist in a world of sound bites that leaves us little room for ambiguous and muddied communication. Clarity is a beautiful thing. Give it a try.
A version of this story first appeared on the blog Get in Front Communications.