Brevity in Communications: It’s Beautiful

In 1603, Shakespeare wrote, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” No slouch with a quill pen, the Bard realized early on that brevity is truly the soul of effective communications.

Despite our best intentions, we too often forget about brevity when we write on topics we care about. Who hasn’t plowed through the three-page, single-spaced holiday letter or vacation recap?

It’s easy to confuse quantity with quality, stuffing five pages of company information into a tri-fold brochure. The result is a missed opportunity.

Brevity isn’t only beautiful aesthetically; it can also affect the bottom line. If your company’s communications aren’t hitting their intended target because they are wordy, vague or too detailed, they could be costing you business.

Consider what separates good public speakers from bad ones. The best are engaged and direct. They know better than to bore an audience with endless anecdotes or meaningless detours. They energize with powerful images that relate directly to their main points. For instance:

The Gettysburg Address is only 10 sentences.

Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech lasted just 16 minutes.

Even if you’re not the president or a civil rights leader, you’re still communicating with others daily through e-mails, phone calls, letters, presentations, meetings, etc. What you say and how you say it make a difference.

Because your marketing communications have a direct impact on your business, it pays to keep the following in mind when you are delivering messages on behalf of your company:

Make the payoff obvious.

I’m only going to read something if I understand why it’s important to me. So let me know up front.

Don’t add to the overload.

People are already bombarded with information from myriad sources. If your message isn’t relevant, intriguing, and pointed, into the recycling bin or trash it goes.

Be audience specific.

Speak the reader’s language. What you say about yourself must be tailored to each specific audience.

Have a clear call to action.

What do you want readers to do? Call? Order? Go to your website? Make sure your call to action is easy and unambiguous.

Marketing communications reflect your brand, so it pays to keep them sharp, on-topic, and relevant.

In short, brevity is good business.