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  • Writer's pictureClint Greenleaf

Keep It Short

In Hamlet, Shakespeare said "Brevity is the soul of wit." Winston Churchill said, "Say what you have to say, and the first time you come to a sentence with a grammatical ending -- sit down." There are about 20 other good quotes that speak to this point, but I'm trying to make a point here, so I'll stop at two.

Keeping to your message, and making a short, quick point, is incredibly powerful. Just about anyone who graduated from high school can make a long, boring argument about something. These people are all over the business world. It's rare to find people in business who can do the opposite to make a clear, obvious point in a few short phrases.

And it's not just the business world - the popularity of Twitter and text messages are great examples of the increasing demand for this economy of words. Blogs are often read because they are so short. While I love articles in The Economist, I often read a short blurb in the Wall Street Journal instead.

The lesson here is to make all of your communication short, pointed and clear. In this day and age digital brevity, this is more important than ever. Send short e-mails and include the phrases "no response needed" or "no thanks needed." This helps cut down on your clutter and makes you a more effective communicator. It takes more skill to make a quick point rather than a long one think of your elevator pitch. It has to be short, clear and compelling. If you can do that with all of your communications, you'll be well served.

On your voicemail, especially on your cell phone, suggest that people not leave a message but send you a text message. It means you'll save time (not having to log into your voicemail) and they'll get a faster response.

Consider having staff meetings where everyone stands. It'll force everyone to make their points more quickly -- and with practice, they'll also get better at speaking shortly and effectively. What more could you ask for than a company of people who are good at, and strive for, keeping it short and clear?

I could go on and belabor this point, but you get the idea.

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