Tips to Keep Your Story Sharp in an Excessively Talkative World

Once upon a time, you might have known a small handful of people who were afflicted with the gift of gab. Perhaps it was Aunt Gloria who was famous for monopolizing holiday dinner conversation, your loquacious neighbor Kathy who verbally assaulted you as you lugged in the groceries, or Tony the dry cleaner who just couldn’t let you get away without sharing his life story.

The problem has multiplied. With 24-hour cable TV news, marathon political debates, a proliferation of pitchmen, and mobile phones in the hands of every pedestrian on Earth, the chatter is never-ending.

We simply can’t stop talking.

Our collective tendency for interminable talk has created a kind of surreal Sensurround that bombards our eardrums, clutters airwaves and virtual space, deadens our attention span and creates a manic competition for the hearts and minds of the public. I’m not naming names, but frankly, he who speaks loudest TENDS TO GET NOTICED.

Our global gabfest means a big challenge for communicators (click to tweet). How do you keep your story sharp, memorable and relevant among the maelstrom of chinwaggers who are sucking the air out of the room?

Consider these five tips for rising above the chatter: 

Avoid the Intellectual Discussion
Smart people know a lot and tend to over share. But, the smartest person in the room doesn’t succeed with stacks of data but by offering solutions. Simplify your story into a clear problem/solution statement that distinctly articulates the result or outcome you can deliver.

Colorful Doesn’t Mean Controversial
Contrary to popular belief, colorful language doesn’t have to be hostile to get noticed. Descriptive words that arouse the five senses will stick with your audience.

Have a Destination
So much of the chatter we process is open ended. Create a destination for your audience. Tell them what you want them to do. A clear call-to-action will stand out.

Speak from the Heart
At a time when rapid-fire, cookie cutter talking points are the norm, a personal story can stop an audience in its tracks. Add a touch of humanity to make your story more memorable.

Silence is Golden
When all else fails, a simple pause can add emphasis to an important point and make your audience sit up and take notice. For an audience weary of constant discourse, a quiet moment of reflection can be the greatest gift you offer.

About Thomas Barritt

Tom Barritt is Partner and Managing Director of Ketchum’s Communications Training Network, a team of executive media coaches. He has helped executives shape stories that get noticed for nearly three decades.