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Brief summary

Joseph McCormack

Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less

4.4 (147 ratings)
15 mins

Brief summary

Brief by Joseph McCormack is a guide for improving communication skills in a world full of distractions. McCormack offers practical advice for keeping messages clear, concise, and compelling, helping readers save time and increase their impact.

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    Be heard in today’s distracting world by making your point quickly.

    Every day we’re swamped by information, distracted by innumerable people and things vying for our attention. In this fast-paced, information-centric world, time has become a valuable commodity: those who can’t grab attention and make their point quickly are easily ignored.

    Why’s it so hard to get people’s attention?

    Because we simply don’t have the mental capacity to take in all the information we encounter. We’re confronted with so much data that it’s impossible to make sense of it all.

    For example, according to the software developer Atlassian, the average professional receives 304 emails per week. Not just that, the venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers’ annual Internet Trends report found that people check their phones 150 times per day. That means the average worker gets interrupted every eight minutes by their phone alone!

    Because of these modern diversions we struggle to take in the rest of the information with which we’re presented. It’s no surprise that research has shown the average attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to eight over the past five years.

    As a result, everyone expects things faster. To get your ideas across in this information overload you’ll need to hold your audience’s focus and that means making your point quickly.


    By speaking in attention-grabbing headlines. For instance, instead of slowly building information in a presentation, announce your findings right away.

    Headlines are effective because business people can become impatient when speakers aren’t straightforward. For example, picture 300 executives at a non-profit fundraiser on a Wednesday night. The keynote speaker goes 30 minutes over and by the time he’s done the room is half empty. In this way, the inability to communicate quickly could cost you not just people and money but also respect and your reputation.

    But if successful people want everything to be concise and have no tolerance for long-winded explanations, then why’s it so difficult for us to get to the point?

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    What is Brief about?

    Brief (2014) is a guide to having more impact and influence by saying less. These blinks show the reader the power of brevity in the information age, explain the barriers to being brief and give helpful instructions on how to improve your communication while saving your own time and everybody else’s.

    Brief Review

    Brief (2014) by Joseph McCormack is a book that explores the importance of concise communication in today's fast-paced world. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Provides practical tips to help professionals master the art of brevity, leading to increased clarity and efficiency in communication.
    • Offers real-life examples from various industries, illustrating the impact of concise communication on productivity and success.
    • With its engaging anecdotes and relatable scenarios, the book keeps readers entertained and shows them how brevity can be both effective and interesting.

    Best quote from Brief

    It takes time to be ready to say less.

    —Joseph McCormack
    example alt text

    Who should read Brief?

    • Anyone interested in improving their communication skills
    • Those wanting to grab the attention of others
    • Business leaders whose ideas need to stand out

    About the Author

    Joseph McCormack is an expert on corporate storytelling and transmitting information through narrative. He has provided communications consultation to a wide range of professionals from military leaders to senior executives of companies like SAP, MasterCard and Harley-Davidson.


    Joseph McCormack: Brief Copyright 2014, John Wiley & Sons Inc. Used by permission of John Wiley & Sons Inc. and shall not be made available to any unauthorized third parties.

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    Brief FAQs 

    What is the main message of Brief?

    Discover how brevity can improve communication and increase productivity in our fast-paced world with Brief.

    How long does it take to read Brief?

    The reading time for Brief varies, but the Blinkist summary provides a concise overview in just 15 minutes.

    Is Brief a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Experience the power of brevity and learn how it can transform your communication skills with Brief.

    Who is the author of Brief?

    Joseph McCormack is the author of Brief.

    What to read after Brief?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Brief, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • Just Listen by Mark Goulston
    • Primal Leadership by Daniel Goleman
    • Myths of Strategy by Jérôme Barthélemy
    • Talk Lean by Alan H. Palmer
    • Listen Like You Mean It by Ximena Vengoechea
    • Smart Brevity by Jim VandeHei
    • You're Not Listening by Kate Murphy
    • Persuasive Copywriting by Andy Maslen