Brian Krogh

How To Be Concise In A Meeting

It's tough to be concise when you speak. Here's how to avoid talking for too long in a meeting.

In my grad school classes students would raise their hand as if they had a question.

When they spoke, it was about them, not us. We were treated to a lecture showing off their experience or what they learned in undergrad.

To be candid, it felt like a waste of time and diminished their credibility.

The same thing happens in meetings and presentations.

To be the person who adds value when you speak, do these three things:

1. W.A.I.T.

Before you speak ask, "Why Am I Talking?"

If you are about to:

- show off your intelligence.

- brag about your success.

- prop up your team.


Listen for a spot to add value.

When you speak it should be about them, not you.

If you're genuinely speaking to contribute, move to #2.

2. Test the market.

Wise businesses test products before they launch.

Before you speak, test the meeting market.

Ask a question and read the response.  

- I faced similar challenges in a recent project, is it valuable to share what I learned?

- "At my last company we ran a similar experiment, it didn't go well, is there time for me to share why?

- "Our team also just switched vendors; would it be helpful to hear about our process?"

If they hesitate, say you'd be happy to share more offline. If they say "yes," move to #3.

3. Deliver a headline.

If everything you want to say was an article in the New York Times, what would the headline read?

Share that first, pause and see if they want more information.

- The project succeeded because we focused on three priorities, rather than many priorities.

- Flawed data collection methods contributed to our failed experiment.

- Switching vendors is costly, we should have first looked to renegotiate with our current vendor.

After your headline, pause.

If they ask questions, answer them. If they're unsure it's relevant, say you're happy to discuss offline.

Remember . . . When you dominate a meeting, you lose credibility.

When you listen and speak less with greater impact, credibility soars.

Not sure how to talk to your team about presenting your company's most important information?

I would love to meet you and provide you with some value whether or not we work together long term. Let’s put something on the calendar.