Getting to the point

Frequently at the mercy of information overload, I find myself placing greater value on “bite-sized” pieces of information. Not only are they more accessible – I’m far more likely to read, watch or listen to them in the first place – but they are also likely to be more effective at the same time.

Condensing an idea or thought into its key essence without losing meaning is an important skill, yet we can become complacent in our communication.

Have you sent or received an ambiguous “txt msg” lately that could be misunderstood? The convenience of 160-character text messages (SMS) saw us lose meaning in our attempt to be brief and quick.

With the freedom of email, when did you last carefully review a message before sending it? The commoditisation of data has meant it is cheap to send increasingly large quantities of information, reducing the need for brevity.

Although brevity is less appropriate when being creative, journalling or simply chewing the fat with an old friend, it is increasingly more important in marketing, fast-paced work environments, digital communication and the prioritisation of our time.

I love Twitter for its 140-character limit which encourages me to be really clear and concise about what I want to say. It becomes easier with practice, so here are 4 Questions for Brevity to try:

  1. What am I *really* trying to say? Think about the outcome you want & what the most important detail is.
  2. Who is my message aimed at? Think about the audience and how that might influence what needs to be included.
  3. Is it clear enough? Think about the context, and whether there are any assumptions made or details missing.
  4. What can I cut without reducing the meaning? Think about how much story or description is necessary to your purpose from Q1.

Please add your comments below, and share your thoughts on:

In what context or situation would it be useful to practice your skills at brevity?