3 Surprising Things You Didn’t Know About Being Brief
“I want to be long-winded and unclear,” said no one, ever.
Being clear and concise is a critical skill to have, and is a key part of what makes great communicators great. Most of us already know the importance of being brief. We are told to be clear in our writing at school, we are told to be concise when giving presentations at work, and we are told to be succinct when answering interview questions.
But there is more to being brief than knowing that we should do it. Here are 3 things you may not know about being brief.
#1 — Most communication courses talk about the importance of being brief but don’t talk about HOW to be brief.
Lookup any communication course or attend communication training and you will probably hear about the importance of being brief, clear, and concise. Coaches will explain that to be a great communicator you should not ramble or be long-winded. They talk about sticking to one topic, getting to the point, and summarising things using the key information only.
The problem with this approach is that while everyone talks about the need to be clear and concise, very few people explain exactly how to do it. It is one thing to know that you should do something, but it is quite another to know HOW to do it.
(If you’re thinking this post is just another example of someone saying you should be brief, you’re right. But over the next month, I’ll be sharing lots of posts with tips and techniques for HOW to be brief. Sign up to my newsletter to get these sent directly to your inbox)
#2 — When brevity is done well you don’t even notice it
It is easy to spot bad communication. We always know when someone has been talking for too long or hasn’t got to the point fast enough. But is it as easy to spot good communication?
We see great examples of being brief every day, but we don’t consciously recognize them. One of the most common examples is in the news. News outlets have perfected how to summarise a story to deliver information clearly and concisely. In this world of the 8-second attention span they have to get a message across quickly and clearly otherwise we lose interest and move on to the next thing.
While we always recognize communication that isn’t brief enough, we simply accept good, brief communication without it making a lasting impression on us.
#3: One of the best books about being brief was written in 1990
In 1990 Milo O. Frank wrote a 120-page book (which is short compared to most self-improvement books) called: How to get your point across in 30 seconds or less. This fantastic book is a clear and simple to use guide for how to be clear and concise. It uses lots of examples and real-life situations to explain techniques and is also an entertaining read. Multiple authors have created similar books in the 30 years but those books are longer (250+ pages), some don’t have as many practical examples, and none can match Milo’s text for explaining how to be clear and concise in a way that is itself clear and concise (ironic eh?)
I think we can all agree, clear and concise communication is important. What you now know is that lots of people talk about why we need it but not how to do it. You often experience succinct communication, most often in the media, but might not ever have noticed how good the communication was. And every so often someone writes a good book about HOW to do it.
This post first appeared on the Chris Fenning blog at https://chrisfenning.com/3-surprising-things-you-didnt-know-about-being-brief/