I love concise messages. So when offered the opportunity to read Brief: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less by Joseph McCormack and then blog about it, I was all in. Writing a book about being brief showcases the author’s credibility from the first paragraph. McCormack’s Brief succeeds in all ways.
“That’s the way it goes,” we say when we don’t get:
- Support for our ideas
- An approval after our presentation
- The sale
- A job or promotion
There’s always reason (aka an excuse):
- Bad timing
- An off day
- Competing factors
- Favoritism or office politics
Actually, when things don’t go our way, it’s usually about us–what we say and how we say it, attached to what we do and how we do it.
If we want better outcomes, we need to master brevity.
Learn to be brief.
Your career is driven by words:
- Your boss explains the need for improved processes. You present new ideas and initiatives..
- Your customers express their needs. You describe how your company’s products and services can meet them.
- Your manager declares the desire to build talent. You define your capabilities.
Your biggest career challenge is cutting through the maddening clutter of noise, distractions, and interruptions, exacerbated by digital communications.
Joseph McCormack’s book, Brief: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less, leads you out of the morass and into some rarefied air.
Brevity is a choice. When you want to get more, decide to say less.
Think about that for a second. Consider how much workplace air you fill with talk that grabs the undivided attention of others. For most of us, it’s not much.
Consider these statistics from McCormack:
People speak about 150 words per minute, yet have the approximate mental capacity to consume about five times that number, or 750 words per minute.
Unless you’ve quickly hooked your listener with compelling information or stories, s/he has lots of time to drift to other thoughts before you’ve made your point.
Think about the last time you listened to someone who captivated you with an idea or an observation–a time when you hung on every word. Do you communicate that effectively? If not, what would it take and what would your career payoffs be?
Brief gives you the insights and the tools.
If brevity in communication were easy to do, you’d see a lot more of your coworkers doing it. If you master being brief, your career value will increase if not soar!.
To be brief doesn’t just mean being concise. Your responsibility is to balance how long it takes to convey a message well enough to cause a person to act on it.
Effective presentations are smooth. Creating them can be rough. You don’t get to the power of brevity without putting in the challenging mental work.
Brevity starts with deep expertise. Only with thorough knowledge can you accurately make a summary.
His book digs into the how to’s, providing clearly stated models and stories that remove the mystique so you can up your brevity.
To communicate effectively nowadays, you must be able to speak in headlines and grab someone’s attention right away.
He advocates this approach:
Map it. BRIEF Maps [his model]…used to condense and trim volumes of information
Tell it. Narrative storytelling…to explain in a way that’s clear, concise, and compelling
Talk it. …turn monologues into controlled conversations
Show it. Visuals that attract attention and capture imagination
Digital screens, phone calls, meetings, email, and interruptions of every dimension compete with what you want others to hear. Being brief helps to deflect their potentially negative effects.
Like it or not, you already have a reputation around the way you communicate. Do you know what it is? Are you a rambler, a dominator, a repeater, a windbag, an empty suit, or a clarifier?
If you want to boost your career, become known for being brief, bringing clarity, and cutting through the clutter, taking the pain out of getting work done.
If you want to get good at it, then consider reading Brief.