Universal experience: You patiently sit through a talk in which the speaker drones on for 30 minutes just to make a point that clearly could have been made in five.

Arrrrggggh, frustrating! You feel like your precious time was wasted. And that’s because your time was, in fact, wasted. This is where phrases like, “well that’s an hour of my life I’ll never get back” come from.

And this is why brevity is one of SmartMouth’s 5 communication principles for leaders.

If you’re a speaker or presenter, consider this: You want to be that person, the one who is able to be concise and impactful. Being brief is the fastest and best route to being memorable and impressive.

Brevity is cultivated, and here’s what it’s all about:

  • It’s about planning and preparation – yep, knowing how you’re going to open, what your main points are, and where you want to take your audience so you can do it efficiently.

  • It’s about rehearsal – yep, and by rehearsal, I mean talking out loud so you can hear for yourself where you need to clarify, cut, or refine transitions.

  • It’s about respecting the unspoken agreement between you and your audience that you’ll use their time wisely and deliver value to them.

  • It’s about respecting the agreed-upon time limits you were given.

  • It’s about avoiding TMI and limiting your information dump to only those things that will be interesting to your audience (and not just to you).

#Protip #1: Ask yourself whether your audience is in the room by choice or by obligation. If it’s by obligation, do everyone a favor and be brief!

#Protip #2: Brevity trumps comprehensiveness 99.9% of the time!

Up to this point, I have made my point in 282 words (only 10 more words than the Gettysburg Address). Hopefully, it’s short enough to hold your attention and long enough to leave you with valuable food for thought!

Beth Levine