Communication Challenge: Talking Too Much When Trying to Convince

Talking too much when trying to convince or persuade others.

Does this communication style sound like you?

Bigger horse talking at a small pony, talking too much when trying to convince
Talking too much when trying to convince!

In my experience there are common reasons for talking too much, especially when trying to convince or persuade others.

Here are 8 – see if you recognise yourself in one or more:

  1. You don’t trust in the merit of your ideas (my last post on this is here) and are trying to convince yourself – even more than your listeners. You may think that if you just keep talking, something will click and work out. How many sales or arguments have been lost this way?
  2. You don’t want to come across as inflexible or dogmatic. Sometimes people think that by adding “softening” language or additional explanations or material, they won’t sound harsh or abrupt – particularly when they want to be inclusive or collaborative. Softening language may work: but frequently it doesn’t. It may simply irritate people!
  3. You naturally process your ideas by thinking out loud. Extroverts usually prefer to talk to think – introverts think, then talk. When I put the ‘talking too much’ idea on LinkedIn this week, a friend commented: “I basically think out loud… even when I’m on my own! Great when working with a team and brainstorming…but…”
  4. You’re nervous or anxious. With that anxiety you might feel the need to gabble – to relieve tension in your own system, and fill any gaps. This can be almost an overwhelming urge at times. And it doesn’t help your cause. This leads to #5:
  5. You don’t like silence. It might make you uncomfortable, it’s weird, it’s unnatural. This is understandable: silence in a discussion or presentation can be confronting. It can also be very powerful.
  6. You habitually talk a lot. This ties back to #3. You may be extroverted and love the energy you get from communicating; or you may just be used to talking a lot.
  7. You want to add too much value. You might know your topic or argument extremely well, and want to throw a lot of content into the conversation to show that you’re an expert.
  8. You’re passionate! Another friend – who’s in social enterprise – commented on LinkedIn yesterday:  “A lot of social entrepreneurs I meet are very passionate advocates for their cause and this often causes them (including me) to talk too much while trying to convey this passion and the perceived importance of their work”.

Solving these challenges really comes down to:

  • allowing silence (particularly during presentations or negotiations)
  • turn-taking during conversations: paying a lot of attention to conversational or audience cues

Self-awareness will go a long way with this list: it’s really worth checking in on yourself. Self-awareness and practising good listening are key to success here.

So, instead of talking too much when trying to convince others, be succinct and then stop.

Stop and breathe, stop and listen. Yes, even during a presentation when there’s silence: you can still ‘listen’ to the unspoken cues coming from the audience.

Doing this can make such a difference to successfully communicating your ideas.

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