It seems that when people try to communicate, they mostly try to push the most stuff they can into our heads at one time. We say that business storytelling is very important but we don’t teach people how to do it. In the absence of instructions, a lot of people believe that saying more is the same as giving someone useful information.
Brevity is Key for Business Storytelling
Have you looked at a recipe on YouTube lately? We often have to slog through 11 minutes just to get even the simplest recipe. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Look at this amazing video to see a great example of brevity:
He got three different hummus recipes into a video that was less than three minutes long. Think on that the next time you say that brevity isn’t possible.
How Do We Work With Brevity?
- Start with the end point in mind: What does this story need to do?
- Trim any explanations: The #1 killer of brevity is thinking we have to explain something beyond a brief in-context line or two at the most.
- One idea per interaction: We try to cram too much information into all communications efforts. Make each interaction about one thing. Or one small grouping.
- Read it aloud: Any writing benefits from your voice out loud. If it doesn’t sound like something you’d actually say, delete it. (Hint: read this post out loud. Sounds like someone talking, right?)
- Think bullets and lists: Our brains love small lists. We love bullets. Communicate that way.
There’s a Time for More Words
But it’s far less often than you’d think. You can fire someone politely and professionally with three sentences. You can profess your love with three words. You can communicate entire oceans of meaning with a single look.
Think brevity first at all times. Every time you add more, it’s usually because you’re feeling insecure or afraid. Hurts to hear that, I know, but it’s true.
Until it’s time to NOT be true.
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