“Vigorous writing is concise.”— William Strunk Jr.
Attending a recent painfully meandering meeting brought to mind the need to revisit the beauty of brevity.
A long time ago, I gave a great (in my mind) powerpoint presentation. The manager gave me an excellent piece of advice. He simply said, “Fewer words. More content.” After I thought about it, I realized he was absolutely correct.
Here are five personal keys I have been working on ever since.
- Know the most important purpose of your presentation, or your email, or your phone call, before you begin. Answer for yourself “What do I need from my audience?”
- State what you need from your audience immediately. For example, the subject line of an email is not too soon.
- Provide only the absolutely necessary background for your intended recipient to be able to respond. Trust they have the intelligence to ask for more if they need more.
- Take concise notes focusing on the key points. For example, meeting summaries only require the documentation of key decisions made and clear action items that were given.
- Don’t fill time. It is GOOD to finish early. Remember it is rare that anyone complains about an email being too short or a meeting finishing more quickly than expected.
When people do any of the above for me, I am delighted with their gift.
I encourage you to give this gift freely and often.
Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,
PS: I could have written the 27 reasons to write concise emails where each reason has 3 sub-points. But hey, I think you get the point!
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