I have just 4 quick things to say:
One: “Brevity Is the Soul of Wit”
Thus spake Shakespeare’s Polonius, in a speech full of voluminous verbiage, yet parched for wit.
We’ll cut him a bit of slack, as he is the bearer of bad news to Hamlet’s royal Mum and Daddy. Perhaps his news about their son was more than Polonius could handle with the emotional clarity needed to communicate elegantly. Or maybe Shakespeare had some private joke going, giving Polonius the classic symptoms of stage fright and fear-of-public-speaking.
How many times have any of us, even all of us, blathered on and on, completely unaware of the glaze building in our audience’s eyes and minds? Or, aware of it, but unable to stop ourselves?
Two: “Less is more.”
Indeed. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then that might be the secret to keeping our soliloquies short in business conversations.
• Can you paint the picture in a brief, smart story, and trust your audience to get it?
• Can you give them just enough so they wind up wanting more?
• If you are blessed with your audience then asking you, “Tell me more!” … can you stay focused, stay just as brief, and ask them a question to draw them into real conversation with you? Aha!
Three: “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.”
How’s that again?
That witty phrase is variously attributed to T.S. Eliot, Mark Twain, or Marcel Proust, with a longer variation of it ascribed to Blaise Pascal.
Writers everywhere know the truth in it. It does take longer to winnow words to their irreducible essence. Ad copy, slogans, even really good comedy punch lines are as chock full of meaning as a chorus of Angels harmonizing on the head of a pin.
Four: “More matter with less art,” Hamlet’s Mum demands of ol’ Polonius.
Speaking of art, Nike’s streamlined logo stands out anywhere on the planet. It even has its own name, the “Swoosh.”
It conveys all that’s needed in one fell swoop, so to speak.
Did some wet-behind-the-ears design intern dash it off in a millisecond? I am certain that’s not how it went.
Could your M.D.’s instant diagnosis take place so quickly without years of medical school and clinical practice? Can an Olympian break the world record in a seconds-long sprint without carefully training for hours, months, years of practice? Of course not!
Here’s today’s hint: Take all the time you need to practice being succinct, in words or images. When you’re in the spotlight’s glare, be sure you are ready… it’s got a hidden timer, and it shuts off PDQ!
Food for Thought… Enjoy!
— Diane A. Curran