The ability to be brief will serve you well. How?
- You'll be admired for your care with language.
- You'll be able to talk effectively when you have minimal time, especially if you are on radio or TV, but also in meetings.
- Listeners will better remember what you say.
- You won't steal the "air time" of other conversers.
Here's what some very smart people had to say about being brief:
"Fifty years ago, John F. Kennedy gave one of the shortest inaugural addresses in U.S. history, yet it is one of the longest remembered. The Gettysburg Address required only a few minutes. During the height of World War II, Churchill said to the Luftwaffe, 'Do your worst, we will do our best!' Memorable ideas and powerful directions are succinct, pithy, and relevant. How do you want people to think of and remember you?" --Alan Weiss, professional speaker, consultant
"To use many words to communicate few thoughts is everywhere the unmistakable sign of mediocrity. To gather much thought into few words stamps the man of genius." -- Arthur Schopenhauer, philosopher
"Be brief; for it is with words as with sunbeams. The more they are condensed, the deeper they burn." --Robert Southey, English poet, 1774-1873
To express yourself succinctly, wrote Mark Twain, is to speak with "a minimum of sound to a maximum of sense." He also wrote, "I'd have written you a shorter letter, but I didn't have time."
Here are some ways you can develop your ability to be brief:
- Read a short magazine article or newspaper column of 500-1000 words and try to express the gist of it in less than 50 words.
- Look for exemplars of this ability in your place of worship, workplace, or club. See what they do, then do likewise.
- Read short poetry, especially haiku. "Feel" what can be done with few words.
- Join a Toastmasters club. (Find one in your area at www.Toastmasters.org
- Practice in everyday life. Slow down a bit, breathe more often, say fewer words.
Take to heart the profound words of the Bard:
"Brevity is the soul of wit."-- Shakespeare, Hamlet.
Loren Ekroth © 2011, All rights reserved
Loren Ekroth, Ph.D. is a specialist in human communication and a national expert on conversation for business and social life. His articles and programs strengthen critical communication skills for business and professional people. Contact Loren at Loren@conversation-matters.com. Check out a wealth of valuable resources and articles at http://www.conversation-matters.com and subscribe to his weekly free Better Conversations ezine (which also entitles you to two very informative reports).