The Beauty of Brevity in Business
Where did we ever get the idea that we had to be verbose to write effectively? Lincoln’s Gettysburg address was only a bit over half-a-page! Learn more in this week’s blog.
“In every long lecture there is a short lecture trying to get out.” – Anonymous
If you’ve ever bought a home, you’ve no doubt been overwhelmed by the deluge of documents begging to be signed. Often on legal-size paper, the stack of documents can be measured with a ruler! Who reads all that stuff?
The new tax bill that President Trump signed into law is also quite hefty at 429 pages—longer than most novels. And in recent years, nothing competes with the verboseness of the Affordable Healthcare Act weighing in at over 11,000 pages! Yikes!
But consider these timeless documents and speeches that truly qualify as being brief:
The 10 Commandments (There are just 10 of them!)
The Lord’s Prayer – 66 words
The Declaration of Independence – Less than three pages
The Pledge of Allegiance – 31 words
The Gettysburg Address – 272 words (a little over half-a-page)
Now that I’ve got your attention, I’d better be brief! So, here are three strong reasons to be brief:
Brevity makes things easier to grasp and remember (like those five examples above).
People are more likely to read or listen to something brief.
Brevity forces the writer/speaker to be succinct and economical with their words.
How to cultivate brevity in your writing and speaking
When writing or preparing a talk, ask yourself these three questions:
How can I say this more simply? When possible, avoid the passive voice, and use your words economically. (If I had written the first phrase of that sentence in the passive voice, it would look like this: “When possible, the passive voice should be avoided.”) Also, consider setting a goal not to exceed a certain length.
How can I say this more clearly? Use words that most people will understand. Don’t repeat yourself; say it clearly the first time. When in doubt, read it aloud. If you stumble through it, chances are you need to find a way to say it more clearly.
What “fluff” can I eliminate? After writing, read through your work through the eyes of someone who has never read it. Eliminate unnecessary adverbs and adjectives and anything else that isn’t vital to get your meaning across.
I’ll close with an ancient Proverb that exemplifies the beauty of brevity:
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” – Proverbs 25:11
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1. Say it without being verbose.
2. Brevity makes things easy to grasp, then remember.
3. Your employees and customers are more likely to read something brief.
4. Brevity forrces YOU to be succinct, saving time and money!
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God Bless your week!
© 2019 Dan Heiland 2019 Kat Heil, LLC