Being Concise

Being Concise

One thing students often have difficulty with when summarizing articles is getting to the point. Unstructured summaries can sound rambling, making them difficult to follow. On the prior page, you were introduced to the article structure inverted pyramid. Use this to give your article summary structure and then use the tips below to convey each point in a clear, concise manner.

The Five Ws + H

Who, what, when, where, why and (sometimes) how. Telling the listener all five of these should be your primary goal. In fact, your open sentences should really summarize these. You can then go into each one in more detail.

Tips for Being Concise

These are not only useful for article summaries, they are useful for speaking in general. Remember these when we start working on answering questions.

  1. Don’t Over Explain – don’t repeat yourself. Using as few words as possible, get directly to the point and when finished, move on. NOTE – when answering questions, take a couple seconds pause to organize your thoughts, then have at it!
  2. Speak in Chunks of Information – visualize bullet points! But talk in complete sentences using transitions.
  3. Eliminate Unnecessary Phrases –  if words are not adding information or helping with the flow, don’t use them. Examples of phrases to avoid: “As I said before…” and “I just wanted to tell you…”
  4. Get to the Point – Take minor details out of your message and “bottom-line it” for your listener.

Author: mblemieux

Matt LeMieux is a lecturer at the University of Osnabrück, where he teaches in the Law School and coordinator of the school's foreign law program. Before moving to Germany, he was the Executive Director of affiliate offices of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Nebraska and Missouri. He has a law degree from the Michigan State University College of Law and is an inactive member of the Nebraska Bar Association and past member of the Michigan Bar Association.

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