Don't Elaborate

Lead with your point, not the supporting details.

July 5, 2023

A mistake I'm doing frequently, as well as the people around me, is to elaborate too extensively on the arguments that are made. This wastes everyone's time and slows you down significantly. Instead, it's better to jump to the "so-what" right away and only descend down to more details if relevant.

And I get why this happens. We are taught in school and university that in order to deliver a compelling argument, we must first lay out the supporting evidence to then make a convincing point. Which in some settings is the right approach.

Yet, in a working environment when needing to make decisions, this approach slows you down. Instead, you should lead with your point and if there is disagreement or more insight needed, then dive into the supporting details and rationals. Most of the time, you find that those don't even matter that much.

The first time I encountered this lesson was while preparing for our first YC Interview in 2022. These interviews are only 10 minutes and the goal for the partners is to validate rapidly whether you hit the checkmarks of joining the batch. For nearly all questions they ask you, a simple answer suffices. No elaboration is needed. Yet, it is so easy to fall into the trap of elaborating on the things you answer as you want to showcase that you are a capable founder that is reasonable in their decision making. But it's not needed. It doesn't add value in.

What holds true for YC interviews holds true for many of the discussions you have in a working environment. Always lead with the answer and only elaborate when needed. This saves everyone time, allows you to make decisions quicker, and ultimately be more successful.