Tuesday, February 21, 2006

How to Get Your Point Across in 30 Seconds or Less by Milo O. Frank

Tired of putting your employees to sleep when you need them attentive? Have your family meetings been running on and on pointlessly? Do people dread your phone calls because they don't have an hour to waste? If so, you may be interested in this book by Milo O. Frank. It's not new. In fact, it's been in publication for twenty years. However, the lack of modern jargon and references to archaic business apparatuses don't take away from the salient points Frank has to make about communication.

Terribly thin at 120 pages, you could almost polish it off during lunch break. The book is padded with anecdotal stories to prove Frank's points. I found the interjection of anecdotal stories interruptive, but without them "30 Seconds" would have been more of a pamphlet than a book. I should warn you that the book is very sales and business centric, but the principals covered can be applied to other arenas in life. Some points may seem self-evident, but then again if you are having a hard time getting your point across in any time less than a few hours you desperately need to read what is inside.

What I found most valuable was the way Frank helped me rethink how I approached conversations. Normally, I would pick up the phone and let things fly. With my AD/HD mind sparking in multiple directions whatever point I had hoped to make would be lost and forgotten by the time I hung up. Nowadays, I use a lot more premeditative preparation before picking up the phone. Family meetings are planned out before I gather the family into the music room. Business meetings have an agenda jotted down. "30 Seconds" will take you through the whole process from start to finish and provide tips on how to streamline the process.

Why you should read this book: If you need help honing your communication skills so that you speak more effectively at meetings, write more concise emails and memos, and get your point across quickly when making phone calls, then this book is filled with pearls of wisdom.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You think rambling on and on and on is cute.

Obviously, the anecdotal stories stacked the deck in Frank's favor. Each miraculous story was meant to prove how wonderful the "30 Seconds" approach was. I'm afraid my cynicism kicked in fairly quickly. Nobody is that lucky. And most of us are not equipped with prescience to anticipate what the ONE amazing hook/punchline/topic will be to open the doors to success. That being said, I have adapted some of these principals to my method of communicating (See my column on the subject: ADHD: Getting Your Point Across in 30 Seconds or What Were We Talking About Again?). My family meetings are less arduous than they've been in the past. My business meetings are crisper and more focused. My phone calls are more productive. I recommend reading this book if only to spell out the obvious that you may be missing.