I tend to monologue and I want to learn the concise ways of efficient talkers

For the past 5+ years, I’ve been talking at people over zoom for a living as an IT / AI adviser

I have noticed I spend a long time lecturing people, spending multiple minutes listening only to my voice. This is not good. My voice is not that beautiful and I am not that entertaining of a lecturer so People are going to tune me out after a while, which means failure.

I have also noticed I tend to monologue when a friend of mine says something that I know, or think is wrong or fallacious in some way. False equivalencies, moderate-level conspiracy theory (ie: illegal immigrants can vote because voting doesn’t require ID in the USA) and so on.

Again, pretty sure what I perceive as providing irrefutable knowledge to them that I possess (such as a voter registration card I cannot vote without, and multiple people prosecuted for felonies for voting twice or impersonating a dead person) will not land as a lecture.

I have noticed, especially watching movies, that I am jealous of characters who convey their point as concisely as humanly possible, while retaining all relevant information, optimized for dialogue, not written text, perhaps at the cost of some minor grammar rules or conventions

Any tips on how I can become one of those people?

The immediate joke answer is to hire some good writers.

My real answer is that nobody is like that, at least not in the real world that I have ever heard. To be concise you have to edit stuff out, and you can’t keep all relevant information in while editing stuff out.

You can, however, optimize for dialog, that is definitely an achievable skill. Give up on the idea that you need to say, all at once, everything that needs to be said. Say one thing well, and then give them a chance to respond. Discuss that one thing. Then, if there seems to be steam left in the conversation, you can try to seque to the next point, but don’t push it.

Also consider what your goal is. Do you want to convince your friend that they are wrong, or do you want to let them know you strongly disagree, so that they can participate in expanding the conversation to get to the “why” of your disagreement? The second approach takes longer, and you may never get a chance to finish what you want to say, but I think it works better in the long run.

Was this wording intentionally ironic? Most people prefer to be talked to, or with, not at.

Especially when writing, I’m guilty—a chronic over-explainer, over-describer. I’ve often spent three paragraphs making my argument in a post, which is immediately followed by a one-sentence, pithy, and often humorous post that makes the point much better.

I pay attention to those who have the gift of pithy brevity and try to learn from their style. There are a bunch on this board. And it often works—I do retain the lessons. Sometimes three words is much more effective than a manifesto that everyone will ignore. So my advice is listen to people who have the gift you’d like to learn.

And don’t any of you dare to follow this post with a single line that makes this point more eloquently! That would be cruel.

You mean, it would pith you off.


It definitely was :slight_smile:

That’s some good advice as well.

Hmm…treat it like a haiku. A limited amount of words to work with. That could be a cool challenge. Thanks!

Segue, of course. I didn’t even notice the squiggly red line. Apologies.

It really comes down to condensing. Usually, as was said upthread, whatever is said in 3 paragraphs can often be said in just 1. I had this problem a whole lot before, too. It was really hard to resist the urge to go on and on because I felt like I was leaving potential unused (“if I have 1,000 words in me to cover Topic XYZ, wouldn’t I be using only half the potential if I use only 500 words?”) until I realized that the longer I wrote or spoke, the less my audience was listening.

For years part of my job included media training for corporate executives. My advice for dealing with an ordinary person is the same I’d give for dealing with a reporter. To wit:

People have a limited attention span, as well as a limited retention span. Say what you need to say and stop talking. If they want to know more, they’ll ask.

I believe there is some sort of “15-second” adage in marketing that if you can’t persuade or capture someone’s attention within the first 15 seconds, you likely won’t at all in the next half hour either.

Something quite similar is the “elevator speech.” If you run a business, could you relate to someone in the space of an elevator ride why they should do business with you. During my time in media sales, I found that a lot of business people could not do that.

You’re an IT/AI adviser. Why do you feel the need to lecture your clients? Aren’t you on a Zoom call to provide them with information and answer their questions?

Let’s first focus on your professional bloviating and then take a look at your personal interactions.

My best guess is that I try to be comprehensive in my explanation when the situation doesn’t necessarily call for it.

The monologuing happens when I am answering their questions, and is my way of providing them with information.

There’s an old saying in business, “Don’t sell past the close.” IOW, beyond a certain point, additional verbiage can only hurt, not help.

I think the analogue here would be “Don’t explain any further once the point has been made.”

Are you answering specific questions? Do the other participants clearly communicate what they need? If you have specific questions you can give specific answers. Do you ask them if they want the short version or the long version? If you don’t have clarity on what problem they need you to solve, your answers will be all encompassing, vague, or groping. Better questions will allow you to give better answers. What do AI programs say when you ask them for help?

You sound so very much like my husband.

One of the reasons it’s so vexing is I have the opposite communication style. In person, I’m known for being friendly but blunt. Direct. Not mincing words. (Not rude. Just frank.) I didn’t even notice this about myself until people started talking about it like it’s an admirable trait.

At work, I only say what I think needs to be said. Sure I socialize nicely, but in my meetings, we stick to the point. What are the objectives of this meeting? Does what I’m about to say directly pertain to the purpose of this meeting? Are we all leaving on the same page about what needs to be done next? That’s all I care about. And deep down, that’s all my coworkers care about, too. Nobody wants to be in a meeting.

You have to think about it from the perspective of the person you’re talking to. When there’s a lot of extraneous detail, however fascinating it may be to you, the average human brain is not capable of sorting through all that to make an instant assessment of which parts are important. There are also people like me who have the attention span of a gnat. The more important something is to hear, the more likely I’m going to be accidentally thinking about something else.

Don’t steamroll your friends. Listen to what they’re trying to say before you inject your 2c. It’s entirely possible that the thing you want to correct is not the most important part of what they’re trying to say. But you won’t know until you listen to their whole spiel. Listen really hard for the message, and respond in accordance with the message, not just the part that sets you off.

Finally, consider whether you might have some neurodiversity as a factor here. I have ADHD, my son is autistic, and I think my husband probably has some autistic traits. Learning about the kinds of challenges that come up with those disorders may point you to some tips and tricks used by people with problems of impulse control and less than stellar social insight.

This was me until I became a grant writer. 5,000 characters to answer twenty ridiculous questions with compelling detail? I’m your woman.

It helped substantially with my fiction writing as well. I’m a ruthless editor of my own words. (I just cut out about five paragraphs of this post without even blinking. You’re welcome.)

Before actually speaking, take a deep breath and a little time to engage the brain to decide the key point(s) you want to get across. Limit the point(s) to what people need for [whatever you’re explaining] to be useful to them (assuming you’ve also already found out what they’re hoping to learn from you).

If you’re discussing, rather than explaining and disagree with what your interlocutor’s just said, phrase it as a question, even as short as “How, exactly?” That should also buy you a bit of time.

Listening comes into this as much as speaking, I suspect.

My father was a salesman for a product with very specific uses that had to confirm to specific specs. He had to sell to two different types of clients: purchasing managers who were strictly bottom line types, and engineers who wanted all the data. He developed Type A and Type B answers and “code switched” during meetings depending on who asked the question.

Now that’s high EQ.

It’s called an elevator pitch.

There was some well-known person who apologized for writing a long letter because he didn’t have time to write a longer one.

I have a bad tendency, especially when posting here of going off on a long tangent after I have my point. Which reminds me… .