Say It In a Sentence

get-to-the-pointIf you’ve ever attended one of my programs, you may have heard me share the importance of communicating succinctly. Or, as I phrase it: “Say it in a sentence.” If you know me well (especially after a glass of wine), you also know this is something I’ve not mastered.

In her bestseller Lean In, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg tells a story about her boss, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg that beautifully illustrates Sheryl’s advice that “when communicating hard truths, less is often more.”

Mark decided to learn Chinese, so to practice, he spent time with Facebook employees who were native speakers. Not only did he improve his language skills, he also gained insight into what was going on within the company.

“One of the women,” Sheryl writes, “was trying to tell Mark something about her manager.” But Mark didn’t understand, so he asked her to simplify what she was saying. She spoke again, and again, he asked her to use simpler terms. After a few more rounds of this, the frustrated woman, still speaking Chinese, blurted out, “My manager is bad!” Mark understood.

“If more people were this clear,” Sandberg concludes, “the performance of many organizations would improve dramatically.”

Now I’m not asking you to blurt out your truth in the same way, but too often when we need to share news that isn’t glowing, we skirt the issue. Instead answer the question in a sentence. “Yes, I find it challenging to work with my supervisor, and I’d be happy to provide examples.”

When you’re asked a question, answer it in a sentence, before launching into a story or explanation. And remember, there’s a difference between being succinct and being abrupt. It’s all in the tone of voice and the mannerisms. So when communicating, especially when speaking the hard truths, do so with gentle honesty.  


Step into the Truth Booth, improve your life, and laugh along the way with funny motivational speaker Colette Carlson. How did she go from emotional coward and the Pizza Delivery’s favorite customer to #1 sales producer for sales legend Tom Hopkins and Brian Tracy, featured in Success Magazine, a 50 lb. weight loss, and inspiring audiences at Microsoft, Accenture, Pepsi, Boeing, and organizations worldwide? Visit her at or call 760-230-1212.

Colette founded Speak Your Truth, Inc. to share her success systems and inspire others to Think It! Speak It! Live It! Her tools and takeaways create authentic, long-lasting change in every aspect of your life. With a MA in human behavior, a successful business and 2 teenage daughters, Colette provides a unique combination of education, research, real-life experience, and heartfelt humor to motivate you with her high content programs. Improve your Communication Skills, Work-Life Balance, Sales, Leadership, Assertiveness, Negotiation…all wrapped in the genuine power of Speaking Your Truth.

Did you enjoy this post? Just jot down your email and we'll keep you up-to-date with all of our motivation and entertainment.

Delivered by FeedBurner


  1. Ah well yes. This one is for me, obviously. I need constant reminders that when I'm speaking my truth I need to 1) Get to the point as quickly as possible and 2) Temper my tendency to sound a bit caustic and harsh. You'd think as a motivational speaker on communication I would actually DO these things automatically. But, not so. It takes a LOT of consciousness on my part. So thank you for the reminder!!!

  2. Really well said Colette!  I agree that "it's all in the tone".  Being pleasant when you share your truth can open a heck of a lot more ears… and minds!

  3. Ouch. Point out my weakness why don't ya! :)  But this is so so so true. And forcing me to say in one sentence what the problem is, forces me to really figure out what the problem is. Many times we go round and round about a situation without really knowing what the situation is. Brilliant post Colette! Off to share right now!!!


  4. Overexplaining is something I catch myself doing when I haven't practiced what I'm going to say ahead of time.  I hate it!  Your advice is exactly what I can use to get better at this.  Loving it!

  5. This is really good.  I recently had someone speak their truth to me and they went around and around and around and I felt wow – enough already!  I wish I had Colette in my pocket when these things happen!   Excellent post.  And, Lean In was a great book!


  1. […] Do you have a situation where you haven't been able to get through to someone? Why not find a metaphor or analogy that might paint a clearer picture for you? Why you might even be able to do as my friend and colleague Colette Carlson suggests and Say It In a Sentence! […]

Speak Your Mind