“Blah-blah, blah-blah, blah-blah, blah.
“Ever listen to someone who, long after you’ve spaced out, continued to blab on? What did you think of that person? Probably self-absorbed and interpersonally clueless. Being long-winded is a sure route to career failure, indeed life failure.
“Of course, no one thinks they’re perceived as talking too much, otherwise they wouldn’t do it. But without realizing it, could you be one of those irritating people?”
Three minutes is not a long time. Just about right for a personal testimony in a meeting context. But in a dialogue, three minutes becomes a monologue.
So much of our evangelism training focuses on the message, but we also need develop communication skills. One such skill utilizes what Nemko calls the traffic light rule.
“During the first 30 seconds of an utterance, your light is green: your listener is probably paying attention. During the second 30 seconds, your light is yellow—your listener may be starting to wish you’d finish. After the one-minute mark, your light is red: Yes, there are rare times you should “run a red light:” when your listener is obviously fully engaged in your missive. But usually, when an utterance exceeds one minute, with each passing second, you increase the risk of boring your listener and having them think of you as a chatterbox, windbag, or blowhard.”
Nemko offers some helps to “ensure you’re seen as interesting not annoying.”
- As you’re talking, keep asking yourself, “Does this detail risk boring my listener, risk your being thought of as the King or Queen of Hot Air?
- Unless you’re saying something you know deserves more than a minute, at the 30-second mark, look for a place to stop. If your listener wants more, he or she can ask a question. She rarely will. Try it and see. What if you’re saying something that requires more than a minute? Break it up into segments, and after each segment, ask something like, “What do you think of that?” or “Am I being clear? Really?” The “really” is important because it lets the listener know that your request is not gratuitous: you really want that question or comment.
- Be alert to your listener’s non-verbal cues, especially as your utterance passes the 30-second mark. Does your listener seem fully engaged?”
If you want to dive into this more, here are some resources that might help.
- Snippets, a brief article in the Missional Coaching Toolbox in the Life on Mission section of Cru.org, offers help in breaking up your three-minute testimony into snippets of conversation so that your story becomes a conversation rather than a monologue.
- For a bit more about the priority of seeking to understand, Sometime offers perspective on asking permission.
- And a book full of valuable skills and examples of conversations that I like is Doug Pollock’s, God Space: Where Spiritual Conversations Happen Naturally.
Previous Coaching Tips
- Andy Stanley’s Looking for the Uniquely Better.
- Beginning the Year Checklist.
- A tension: Only the interested or every person?
- Next Steps with the Each and the Every.
- Can Incoming Freshmen Launch?
- Caring for our People.
- The Network Map.
- The First Coaching Call.
- Collaborative Discipleship.
- Developing Leaders with Different Personalities.
- Two Simple Leadership Development Constructs.
- How to Finish When You Can’t See the Finish Line.
- Uh oh! Now what?
- Key Volunteer Challenge.
- Launch Week Side Benefits.
- A Launch Trip Offers Team Benefits.
- Advent Devotionals.
- December Checklist.
- Mention Spring Break Opportunities Now.
- Gap Year.
- Engaging Spiritually with Friends and Family Over Break.
- Prayer, Evangelism, Biblical Content, and Community. Parts 1 & 2.
- Students learning from other student leaders.
- Removing Hurdles to Volunteer Involvement.
- Ministry as microcosm or ecosystem?
- Articulating vision.
- “Can I get in on this?”
- Ministry even on snow days.
- A 2000 voice virtual choir.