“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.

    1. 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?”
    2. State what you need from your audience immediately. For example, the subject line of an email is not too soon.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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,


Alan Willett

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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