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Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Make your communications brisk, lean and brief.

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Communications consultant Joseph McCormack presents valuable tips on how to convey information leanly and meanly. Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote: “It is my ambition to say in 10 sentences what others say in a whole book.” Or take an almost perfect example of a telling message that is “short, sweet and to the point”: champion boxer Muhammad Ali’s short-short poem, “Me? We.” Amid today’s information overload, lean messaging is essential if you want people to get your point. getAbstract recommends McCormack’s manual to anyone seeking to communicate concisely and clearly.


Blah, Blah, Blah…

Today’s constant barrage of information leaves you totally exhausted. Many people claim to feel as if they suffer attention-deficit disorder. Roger Bohn and James Short of the University of California at San Diego report that Americans collectively manage approximately 1.3 trillion hours of information above the information they manage at work. The average American “consumed 100,500 words on an average day.”

If you have something to communicate, be brief. Get to the point immediately and get your message across quickly in the clearest, most cogent way – before something distracts your overloaded readers or listeners.

“Deep Brevity”

As you practice brevity, don’t equate it with superficiality. Your goal should be deep brevity – being “succinct and savvy.” If you’re not efficient, people won’t hear what you want to communicate. Despite the importance of brevity, few people speak directly, clearly and concisely.

Besides just liking to talk, this failing stems from the “seven capital sins” that sabotage brevity:

  1. “Cowardice” – You need to communicate about a subject involving numerous perspectives...

About the Author

Joseph McCormack is founder of the BRIEF Lab and consults with executives on how to disseminate their messages.

Comment on this summary

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    S. S. 11 months ago
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    R. C. 6 years ago
    Perfect. Thank you.

    Just a note: that poem by Muhammad Ali was "Me / We," not "Me / Whee!"
    • Avatar
      6 years ago
      Dear Mr. Bannett -Thanks for the heads-up on Muhammad Ali's poem. We've fixed it now. Glad you enjoyed the abstract.
      Erica Rauzin
      Senior Managing Editor, getAbstract
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    M. C. 6 years ago
    Very useful... I particularly liked the 7 sins of brevity. I also shared the lessons with my team. Given our normal rush of actitivities these concepts become paramount for effectiveness & persuasion.