Benefits of Being Brief

Posted on September 12th, 2014 by

Always on Twitter or updating your Facebook status? It turns out that being able to compress an idea into 140 characters or less might actually help you in your career. In his new book Brief: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less, Joseph McCormack writes that in a world where people have dozens of things on their mind, an important part of success is taking something complex and making it simple. While this can be difficult, McCormack states that there are really only three main areas to master.

First, make sure to be aware of your audience, and make sure that they are aware that you only plan to use a moment or two of their time. If you can convince them beforehand that your message or presentation is concise, they are more likely to pay attention throughout the whole thing.

Second, practice discipline when creating your message. Preparing an outline, finding ways to incorporate short stories and visuals, and utilizing humor can be extremely helpful in engaging your audience. Just make sure that the message isn’t lost and remains as brief as possible. McCormick offers the following framework when drafting an outline: background (why are you speaking), relevance (what is the message and why is it important), information (give three key points that you will be discussing), ending (conclude your message and discuss future steps), and follow-up (answer any questions from the audience).

Third, be decisive. Knowing what to say is only part of the battle; you also need to know when to say it. When giving updates, presentations, or explaining complex ideas, keep it under 20 minutes. If people want more information or are interested, they will ask questions. But if you talk too much, even the target audience will grow bored. And when writing communications, make sure that someone can read them in about 30 seconds.

In the real world, it might be that you only have a minute or two to get a message across or make a lasting impression. Being brief is critical. Just remember, when drafting a presentation or writing an email, how long would you listen or read before tuning out? It’s probably the same for your audience too.


Comments are closed.