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Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less

By Joseph McCormack
  • Read in 13 minutes
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  • Contains 8 key ideas
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Brief by Joseph McCormack

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.

Key idea 1 of 8

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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