Short and sweet: The value of brevity

In today’s modern world much has changed in the way of how we get and internalize our information. With so much new technology constantly coming out that makes it easier and faster to get information, we are oversaturated. We are constantly hit with a barrage of information about absolutely anything and everything. It has changed many things around us as well as how we go about getting and ingesting our information. Twitter has become the monument to our shortened attention spans created by this information overload. Its platform that makes you get your message down to 140 characters can teach you some valuable lessons about elevator pitches and messaging in this social media era.

  1. There is so much content available now that if you can’t get your message across in the first sentence or even the first 140 characters people may not read further.
  2. The act of focusing down your message into 140 characters forces you to filter out all the extraneous information and focus on what’s really important
  3. Most of us learned the wrong message in college. That lesson being, if you said enough stuff the teacher would take it and think you put enough work into it and give you the grade. That’s not how the modern world works. People want their information quickly, easily, and most importantly, concisely.
  4. Twitter itself has made 140 character messaging a must for most organizations. Most organizations need to be able to communicate on that platform and others like Vine, Tumblr, and blogs etc. that reward those that are able to be both concise and informative to be successful.
  5. People don’t have time to read the whole novel. Give them the Cliffs notes. They’ll appreciate and love you for it
  6. You get 90 seconds in an elevator pitch and most peoples decisions are made on that basis. In the new social media world a lot of research has shown that most people never make it past the first 7 seconds of a YouTube video. This just illustrates that the quicker you entice the better.
  7. Who reads your next email may very well be dependent on how good your subject line is. Great subject lines need to capture an audience and intrigue in just a few words.
  8. If it’s a really good idea, you ought to be able to get it across in a few seconds. If you can’t, you’re going to have trouble getting the eyes, ears, and attention of today’s overexposed, information overloaded, and harried content consumers.

These are just a few reasons I believe brevity is a virtue that is becoming more and more valuable in today’s world. As always I’m curious what other people think.

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Dick Davies

Last week I was working with a CEO who had the fever to put old white papers on his reworked website. I tried to explain it’s a different medium. Now, I’m sending him this post.

Well said!

Terrence (Terry) Hill

Good points! To be honest, even on sites like GovLoop, I usually don’t read long blog posts. If it is important enough, you should be able to state your thesis is a few sentences. An image always helps.

I appreciate Twitter and rely on it as my primary gateway to trusted sources.

If I want to dive into a topic, I’ll read the book. Otherwise, I appreciate brevity.

Joshua Millsapps

Andrew – thanks for posting an absolutely excellent article. I love the graphic at the bottom although – according to the article most people never got that far.

Henry Brown

Not sure much as changed over time… Classic example: When I was looking to hire a staff member, would “narrow” the list by eliminating those whose 1 page or less resume didn’t indicate said individual was worth looking at some more, and then the typical interview would usually last 15 to 30 minutes to discuss an entire career of accomplishments AND goals.

Jay Johnson

Let us model Calvin Coolidge, not William Henry Harrison. The former being known for sparse word usage and the later gave an inaugural speech so long, it would soon kill him.