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Focus on Your Core

No, this is not a gym / fitness blog post.

In a job interview, while doing a product sale, pitching your company in front of an audience, raising funds for a company or even flirting with a potential partner .. there is a tendency to overtalk, run short on time and not achieve the set goal of that conversation.

Before starting to talk, think about and do the following:

  1. Know what is the goal of the conversation and its actual subject. Each situation has its own goal.
  2. Adapt to the environment and the length of that conversation.
  3. Focus on your strenghts and what you are best at. Focus on your core skills/characteristics/experiences/expertise.
  4. Don’t go broad and don’t try to cover everything every time.

The broader you go outside of your core, the more you float away from the base and the more opportunity there is for another person to drift away as well, to ask questions about the non-core stuff and get caught up on irrelevant stuff.

For example, if you want to show someone that you are exceptional in table tennis in 3 minutes, you’ll probably want to think about how you started playing, all tournaments won in your career and best results and your tenacious training routine. If you have time, you will probably want to mention top players you beat, your diligent and hardworking coach and special training steps you take.

You will want to focus on the things that you do well, amphasise them and not provide an opportunity for anyone to drift away from the actual subject (you!) and ask questions that are not completely 100% relevant. You will not want to miss the chance to present yourself in the best light.

Core!

The more time you have, the further away you can go from the core and the risk of drifting away increases.

On top of your table tennis skills, imagine that you have been fixing laptops forever. You’re doing it in your spare time, a couple of hours a month and friends keep sending you laptops to fix. Even though that is great and is amazing that you can fix laptops and tablets, it sparks questions like:

Those questions completely miss the point of your table tennis exceptionality in the 3 minute conversation. I would suggest saving them for the next 10-30 minute conversation where you can actually go deeper into that whole story, reasons and background.

In a time limited setting, you will also not want to mention how you actually started with tennis (it was your first love), how you got injured when you were 10 (car accident) and how this is your 3rd coach that you are working with (you moved 2 countries and they couldn’t follow).

All these points, even though important and relevant (some more, some less) tempt unneccessary questions and waste time in those 3 minutes:

Those questions will be and should be asked and will come down the line. However, they will drift everyone completely away from the main topic. Again, share that in the next 10, 30 minute conversation.

In my experience, this works for 3-5 minute conversations, but you can also use it big, 30-60 minute, but also in shorter, every day conversations when making a point and getting your thoughts across. You always need to know what the goal is, but by sharing more, the risk of drifting away from the point into uncertainty rises.

Way too often people share too much and go too broad and therefore lose the attention of the other person who misses the point in the short conversation. Stick to the core, be focused on your strengths and suppress the urge to go broad. And follow up!

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