Speak Less, Say More

Technology has transformed how we communicate. We receive our information on headlines that pop up on our phones and short posts on social media. There is little time for depth or analysis, and none for digressions nor meanderings. If you want to affect behavior through your words, you have to use as few as possible and ensure every word you write or speak is imbued with transcendent meaning. TED Talks show that the most effective speeches are short, direct and to the point.

If you’re leading a law firm, company or non profit, your job is to share your vision, get others to buy into it and inspire them to pursue it wholeheartedly. The challenge is your audience needs to be convinced quickly or likely not at all. Meetings, power points and presentations that take too long will lose your audience and dilute your vision. Get to the point, make the point and move onto the next points.

Here are some tips to make your speaking and writing succinct and powerful:

Avoid what others have to say about your vision. It’s your vision. Don’t repeat stories or anecdotes from books you’ve read or presentations you’ve attended. Share your story, and share only the heart of the story and the lessons learned from it. No one cares what you did or what you personally learned. They only care what they can learn from it and how they can apply it to their careers and lives.

Be transparent and vulnerable. It doesn’t matter how you say something if you have nothing to say. It’s the message, not the messenger. It’s what you give away, not what you want to take from the audience. You’ve made mistakes. You’ve failed. You’ve stumbled. From these you have learned and honed your vision. Be vulnerable and share your journey, stumbles and all, to your destination. Again, keep it short and to the point and be open about the challenges that helped define and achieve your vision.

Share your story. You’re the protagonist. You faced a challenge, the outcome was in doubt, you struggled, there was a climax, you overcame and rode into the sunset, fade to black, roll the credits. Once you’ve given the flash fiction version of your story, put your audience in your shoes, and make your story theirs, and your victory theirs. They’re not there for you. They’re not in it for you. They’re in it for themselves. You want them to serve the vision? The vision must first serve them.

Use mostly verbs, some nouns, few adjectives and no adverbs. Powerful writing and speech revolves around strong verbs. Active verbs that leave a visual in their wake are the cornerstone and foundation of everything you say and share. Strong, specific nouns are second. Everything else is a distant third.

Cadence and crescendo. You want to use different words to say the same thing for emphasis and cadence and you want the words and phrases to build up to a crescendo, where the quietness of your words give way to something louder, bolder and more powerful. You’re a composer. Compose.

The way we communicate has changed. We want something powerful, impactful, direct and brief. Those of us who can communicate this way will separate ourselves from those who call themselves leaders but achieve little despite their titles.

Frank Ramos is the managing partner of Clarke Silverglate in Miami where he practices commercial, employment and product liability litigation.  You can follow him on LinkedIn, where you can download six of his books for lawyers, including Future of Law, for free. 

Francisco (“Frank”) Ramos Jr. is the Managing Partner of Clarke Silverglate, where he practices in the areas of commercial litigation, drug & medical device, products and catastrophic personal injury.  He is AV Rated and is listed in Best Lawyers in America for his defense work in product liability matters.  He starts his 20th year at Clarke Silverglate and his 21st year of practice.  He has tried personal injury, medical malpractice, product liability, 1983 and inverse condemnation cases to verdict and has spoken and written extensively on trial skills, and as a certified mediator, has resolved various matters through alternative dispute resolution.

In advance of the firm’s mission for its lawyers to be leaders and mentors, Frank has been President of the Florida Defense Lawyers Association and the 11th Judicial Historical Society, and has served on the board of the Defense Research Institute, Florida International University’s Alumni Association, Florida International University’s Honors College, Parent to Parent of Miami, Miami-Dade Defense Bar Association, Legal Services of Greater Miami and Florida Christian School.  He serves as a mentor to countless young lawyers and law students through his publications, social media posts, presentations, webinars and his “coffee chats.” He has written seven books for lawyers (The Future of Law, Go Motivate Yourself, From Law School to Litigator, The Associates’ Handbook, Attorney Marketing 101, Training Your Law Firm Associates and SLDO Strategic Planning Manual), has edited four books for lawyers (The Defense Speaks, The Trial Tactics Defense Manual, The Deposition Manual and Leadership for Lawyers) and has written over 200 articles for lawyers and business professionals. 

His dedication to young lawyers can further be seen through his development of a Deposition Boot Camp and Art of Marketing Program through the Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel, a selective defense organization which hand-picked Frank when he was only 8 years into the practice.  You can follow him on LinkedIn for daily practice pointers and business tips, where he has over 30,000 followers.

In his spare time, he enjoys writing, reading science fiction and hearing his two boys, David, 19, and Michael, 17, perform classical and jazz music.