As a professional speaker I love when I have an hour to communicate a message. I can tell a story, go off topic and still finish with five minutes to spare. When I am confined to 30 minutes to share that same idea, I have to tighten it down a little bit. I have to stick to my outline and stay on topic.

The shorter the presentation, the more rehearsing I do to insure I focus on the most important information. In a five minute talk, I will watch the clock as I rehearse and eliminate unnecessary thoughts and ideas making every word count.

It is a shame that business owners don’t apply that same discipline to networking. I have seen business owners ramble and fumble their way through a conversation. Even 15 minutes into the conversation they still haven’t told me the most important things. And I have seen sales people do the same thing. They get caught up in telling me about all the features, they never get around to telling me the one thing I need to know that will move me to action.

These people treat these conversations as if they had all the time in the world to take me on this convoluted trip.  Unfortunately, I have the attention span of a flea. If they haven’t caught my attention in the first five minutes, it is going to be really hard to get it back,

Do you need to practice everything you are going to say? Of course not, but having a few tight sound bites you can drop into a conversation will help you move that conversation along.

Thinking about your words will improve your writing too. We don’t live in an era where people will take the time to read a long convoluted blog post, hoping to find one interesting nugget of information buried in there somewhere.

When you are done writing a post, walk away from it for a little while. When you come back read it out loud, and eliminate. It will be easier to hear phrases which sound awkward or confusing.  Eliminate unnecessary phrases which make the post last longer than five minutes. What you will be left with is a tighter post, which holds the reader’s attention.

And when you want to share the link on Twitter, do more than just telling me you have a new blog post. Find the most interesting phrase, and share that. Choose wisely, because every word counts.