The 3-Step Process to Stop Over-Explaining

by Carla Howard

iaap-over-explain

Do you find yourself explaining every twist and turn of how you decided on a specific course of action? Does your boss fidget and tap their pen when you speak up in meetings?

Do you find yourself speaking very quickly because you have so much to say—and people need know how you arrived at your conclusions so that you can persuade them to agree with your point of view and demonstrate that you’ve analyzed every angle?(WHEW! I need to take a breath.)

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, my guess is that you are a champion over explainer. 

And it’s hurting your career rise.

Ironically, the times we feel the tug to go into extreme detail are the exact times a concise answer or statement would be most valuable. This has proven true for me and I’m willing to bet that you’ll find it to be true in your life as well.

Why? Because over explaining creates the exact opposite of what we are trying to accomplish. It leaves others in the conversation:

  • Annoyed
  • Thinking about something else
  • Planning their rebuttal or reply
  • Wondering how to stop you from going on and on and on…
  • With an impression that you lack self confidence and strategic thinking

OUCH! How frustrating is that?!

Now the good news! You can very quickly change this habit and increase your confidence, level of influence, and promotability in the process.

Step 1: Know your triggers. 

Take note the next time you feel compelled to provide detailed background or all of the steps in your mind. What are you feeling? Here are a few common causes of over-explaining:

  • Lack of Self Confidence
  • Feeling Intimidated
  • Questions from Executive Leaders
  • Passionate Conversations
  • Feeling Vulnerable

Step 2: Formulate 2 -3 sentences that will add value to the conversation.

When you begin ruminating or formulating a long and winding response—stop. Take a breath; formulate two or three sentences that would add value to the conversation; then make your statement. I’m not talking about long-winded sentences like the one at the beginning of this blog. Your sentences must be short and concise to be effective.

Step 3: Ask a question.

If you’re concerned others in the conversation may need more detail, stop and ask them one question. Here are a few to keep in your hip pocket:

  • Would you like more detail around <fill in the blank>?
  • What questions do you have?
  • What else would you like to know?

Remember: No one wants or needs to know everything that’s going on inside your head.

You’re smart and capable. That’s why they hired you. When you eliminate over explaining, your self-confidence will increase and others will have more confidence in your ideas and suggestions!


IAAP works with the best trainers in the industry to ensure you have relevant, engaging, practical content at your fingertips. This blog is written by a speaker with a program in the IAAP Approved Programs database. Search by name or keyword to find their contact information and book them for your Branch or Region event. 

If you’d like to attend one of these events, you can find one in your area here.


Carla Howard is a professional speaker and mentor. Her passion is helping professional women become more influential and promotable so they can rise with confidence and grace. You can learn more about her and the services she offers by visiting her website at TheProfessionalWomansMentor.com. Carla would love to answer your questions in future articles, so please email them to Carla@TheProfessionalWomansMentor.com.

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