Less is more is the way to go

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As the presenter gave his opening remarks and welcomed the audience, he shared with everyone the agenda for his talk, the most important elements where he hoped they would focus, the amount of time he was planning on speaking, and that he would try and get through his 115 slides as quickly as possible.

As the groans started to rumble loudly through the audience at the thought of a 115-slide death march through PowerPoint, the presenter allowed just enough time to capture their attention before saying, “Actually it sounds like this group is my kind of group, the good news is that I only have three slides, and we will have more dialogue today than presentation, sound better?”

With that, his audience cheered, he had their attention, and he was off to what would be a phenomenal talk. His less-is-more approach really won them over.

The salesperson that the sales manager was coaching asked her for some guidance on a proposal that was being prepared for a potential prospect. As the salesperson took her through the proposal that was filled with information about every possible product and service that the company offered, she stopped and asked, “Is the prospect really interested in everything that we sell?” The answer was “no,” they were very focused on two specific solutions. She asked the salesperson why he was including everything else. The answer that came back seemed one of desperation, “My numbers are off, and I really want them to see more of our offerings in hopes that I can make the deal a bit bigger.”

Thankfully the sales manager took the time for some coaching, as the salesperson did win the business, because the proposal that was submitted was laser-focused on the specific needs of the customer and nothing else. They proposed only to the value that they could deliver and clearly quantified that value. Again, the less-is-more approach was the much better way to go.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you felt the need to explain your position or that you had to apologize? And when you did, did you ever find yourself talking more than you really needed to talk? This happens all the time to many of us. We think the more we speak, the more we say, and the more we say, the more they hear. And when we keep speaking, sometimes we say even more things we didn’t really mean or using words that we really didn’t need to use. A less-is-more approach tends to restore normalcy faster than a flurry of babbling words.

Sometimes there are situations that need to be talked through when disagreements or conflicts arise, or when we are faced with difficult conversations and situations. That is a healthy dialogue and not a monologue, so that is different. However, sometimes the less we speak, the clearer our points are made and the faster we come to a resolution and a best path forward.

Proverbs 10:19 reads, “When there are many words, sin is unavoidable, but the one who controls their lips is prudent.” Such a great less-is-more lesson right there.

Why do we use so many words when explaining or defending? Because we are trying to sell the other person or people around us on our side of the story. We believe that the more we say, the more persuasive we become. When in fact, it is the opposite. My experience tells me that the more we talk, the more opportunities we miss to gain consensus, to win over an audience, or apologize and reconcile fractured relationships.

How about you, is it easier for you when someone speaks directly or shares information concisely? Have you ever been turned off by long-winded responses or apologies? Or have you ever found yourself as the one speaking more than listening? I would love to hear your story at gotonorton@gmail.com, and when we learn to take a less is more approach more often, it really will be a better than good life.

Michael Norton is an author, a personal and professional coach, consultant, trainer, encourager and motivator of individuals and businesses, working with organizations and associations across multiple industries.

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