Great communicators get right to the point. In today’s busy world, if you want to be noticed and remembered, you need to communicate quickly and clearly. This is a simple lesson you can apply to all of your corporate communications: your website, press releases, business plan, executive summary, brochures, ads, speeches, and e-mails.
Of course, this isn’t just a modern secret. Great communicators have known for millennia that brevity is a virtue; here are a few famous quotes:
In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.
— Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Easy reading is damn hard writing.
— Nathaniel Hawthorne
I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter.
— Blaise Pascal
Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.
— Henry David Thoreau
If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.
— Marcus T. Cicero
You know that I write slowly. This is chiefly because I am never satisfied until I have said as much as possible in a few words, and writing briefly takes far more time than writing at length.
— Karl Friedrich Gauss
It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book.
— Friedrich Nietzsche
The more you say, the less people remember. The fewer the words, the greater the profit.
— Francois de Fenelon
No one who has read official documents needs to be told how easy it is to conceal the essential truth under the apparently candid and all-disclosing phrases of a voluminous and particularizing report.
— Woodrow Wilson
If you want me to give you a two-hour presentation, I am ready today. If you want only a five-minute speech, it will take me two weeks to prepare.
— Mark Twain
Brevity is the soul of wit.
— Lord Polonius (Hamlet)
The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.
— Thomas Jefferson
Any philosophy that can be put in a nutshell belongs there.
— Branch Rickey
Brevity is the best recommendation of speech, whether in a senator or an orator.
There’s a great power in words, if you don’t hitch too many of them together.
— Josh Billings
So, the next time you’re tempted to bang out a 70-page report or business plan, think again. Take the time to make it as short as possible.