The Secret to Great Communication
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.