Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Have you ever been around someone who just keeps talking and talking?

You ask them one simple question then you regret it because they go off on this whole tangent or more than one tangent.

You feel like you can’t get away.

Did you want to talk again with that person?

No, of course not.

That’s our topic for today.

On this show we talk a lot about what to say, what to do when you don’t know what to say, and how to avoid saying too little, but we’ve never talked about the higher level skill of how to be concise and how to avoid talking too much.


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The art of being concise:

If you guys have been listening for a while you are building your vocabulary and your confidence, now it’s time to cut the fat.

Is this just for speaking?

It’s for both writing and speaking but it’s applied in different ways. This skill is crucial in American business culture.

Today we’re going to give you an overall philosophy of being concise in English.

We’ll show you why it’s powerful and why it’s considered good communication in the US.

Keep in mind, this skill of being concise might not be as important in your country as it is here.


Is conciseness valued everywhere?

All over the world there are different communication styles.

In some cultures the history of a situation is very important so if you ask someone a question they won’t give you a direct answer.

Instead, they’ll go into the history of something and in other cultures they might imply the answer without ever actually saying it.


What communication culture do we have in the US?

In the United States we have a low context culture.

What does that mean?

It means that we communicate everything directly. The answer is in the words. We do not try to imply the answer.

If you have something to say you should say it quickly and clearly. This is especially true in US business culture. 

You should tell the person exactly what they need to know and nothing more. People appreciate this because it saves them time and mental energy.


What happens if you are not concise?

If you cannot be concise and you keep talking we call it rambling.

If you go off into other related topics that no one is interested in we call it “going on a tangent.”

This is as much of a liability as not having enough to say when it comes to connecting in English.

So today we’ll show you how to make sure you don’t ramble in English.


Here are 5 things you can do to be more concise: 

  • Get in the other person’s head. Always try to think from their perspective. What do they need to know right now. Say nothing more than that. 


  • Think before you speak. This doesn’t mean rehearsing the words. It means summarizing your point. What are you trying to communicate? This will keep you from rambling from one point to the next. 


  • Say what you’re going to say first. Start off by telling them what you will say. You can say,  “There are three reasons. First, Second, Third.” By verbally planning out what you’ll say, you create speed bumps for yourself. This tells the person how much more you are going to say. People like to know what to expect. They want to know how long you’re going to keep talking.


  • Get better at reading body language. Look at the body language of the people you are speaking with. Do their eyes gloss over? Do they look away? If they do these things then something is wrong. 


  • Check in with your listener. Create natural stops if it goes silent on the other end, especially when you’re on the phone. You can check in by saying things like, “does that make sense?” or  “Do you follow me (casual),” or “Are we in agreement?” (business).



Remember that even if it’s okay to ramble or speak a lot in your language and culture, conciseness in American culture is highly valued, especially in the fast- paced business world. If you want to build great professional and personal connections, be concise!

Practice this and notice how natives use these tactics that we showed you today.


What questions do you have today?

Let us know in the comments below.


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