By John White, Senior Project Manager
“It’s better to remain silent and appear stupid, than speak and remove all doubt.”
Ronnie Wilkins (and Abraham Lincoln)
Have you ever been on a call and for one reason or another someone on the call is overwhelmingly verbose? We’ve all been there. Maybe it’s nerves, maybe it’s the personality, maybe it’s a deep-seated need to be seen and heard, or maybe it’s the caffeine! Regardless of its origin, talking too much in these situations comes with many direct and indirect consequences.
Saying more than you intended may lead you to promise things that you may not be at liberty to promise. These promises can leave you or your team vulnerable to criticism or failure. Indirect consequences are more complicated; especially dealing with psychiatrists, psychologists, and neuroscientists. Our clients are very smart people who study the way people behave for a living. Think about that. To them, being overly talkative is a sign of various things about the speaker. None of which are probably good.
The most obvious benefits of brevity are time something we have too little of these days. Our clients are entirely volunteers; they all have important and busy lives. The most respectful action you can take with clients is proper management of the time they donate to their society through effective communication. In addition, brevity communicates understanding and intelligence to your audience. It shows that not only do you have a complete understanding of the topic, but you also understand the audience. You are not unintentionally promising or promoting things that are not possible or real. By being succinct and specific in your communication, you are directly communicating the relevant facts. This is all most people want from their AMC. They want to know the facts and how they relate to their specific interests. That doesn’t mean you can’t give an opinion. However, if giving one, make sure it is based on enough fact that you can defend it.
I hate reading one of these things and at the end of the article there is ZERO practical advice. Well, this is not one of those blogs. There are two things you can do to be a more effective communicator at an AMC (or anywhere!).
1) Understand the topic fully. Meet with your team, lookup words you don’t understand, put yourself in the clients’ shoes and reexamine. Look downstream and consider hurdles or benchmarks you will meet. When you investigate a topic fully, you can then (and only then) decide what is necessary to be said and what is unnecessary to any given audience. What happens if you get stuck deciding between the necessary and the unnecessary? Well, that’s easy.
2) Pretend like you are being recorded and that everything you are communicating is being written down and scrutinized by some of the brightest minds. Because in our case, it is.
Remember, it’s always better to say nothing and seem stupid, than to speak and remove any doubt.