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Make 3 Points and Shut the Front Door…

I originally published this on LinkedIn back in 2014. But I’ve been going through my blogs and articles, trying to come up with some sort of organization system for a project I’m working on. I thought this one still provided some value. So I’m reposting it today.

This weekend I had friends in town and we were talking about networking, job interviewing, and making sure you stay on topic in business situations…

After several hours and many beers we came up with a pretty simple guideline that you can use in most business settings to help ensure that you are steering the conversations, getting your points across, but not losing people to the glazed over all too common look that comes up when you have gone on too long.

For our purposes…we will call it “3 points and shut the front door” but originally it was much more vulgar…

So here are 3 keys to making your point in 3 quick hits and then not over talking…be it an interview, a networking situation, or just a blog post.

1. Don’t Tell Them All You Know, Just What They Need To Know: This is simple. We are all really well versed in something and we want to share all that we know. Or, we are in a situation and we feel like we are losing a discussion or if we just make one more point…

Don’t get caught in the trap. 

When you are having a conversation with someone, think about it from their point of view. The simplest way to do it is to say, if they knew nothing…what are the 3 key things they would need to know that have a solid grasp of the concept? 

Then, you list those…

As an example: if someone says what does an organizational development consultant do? I would say, “In my work, I primarily drive client success by focusing on 3 areas people, processes, and performance and look for ways that can gain my clients immediate improvements.” 

I’ve oversimplified, but if someone is curious, they will ask you another question.

2. Its Never About You: Here is the deal, when someone asks you a question…they are probably being polite, but the answer is often not that important to them. So when you are bringing yourself to a business situation, interview, etc…put your feelings away and think about your key points and ideas through the lens of how will this benefit the person I am talking to. 

For simplicity’s sake, let’s say you take the same question above and someone follows up…and asks, “What does your work with people look like?” 

I might answer something like: “I work with people to understand their goals, their challenges, and how they see the situation…so that I can gain an understanding of the people I am dealing with and their unique challenges.” 

So…you see, you can easily veer into the land of “I coach and reformulate…” and blah, blah, blah…by keeping it tight and focusing on the other side, you may get another chance to continue the conversation.

3. Don’t Be Afraid Of Silence: This is more of a thing in interviews and networking than media appearances, but don’t be afraid of the quiet. 

To say it a little bit more plainly…make your point and shut your mouth. A danger in any conversation is going on too long. Don’t do it.

This is where you make your 3 key points and you shut the front door. 

I’ve simplified this and could go on, but I don’t want you to glaze over…what keys do you have for better communications?