IT is full of details. They’re all important. We achieve success by dotting I’s and crossing T’s. We’re careful about the details because technology can be pretty fragile and it’s our job to make it appear to be magical.
And that’s where things get tricky in communications. When we need to show someone what’s behind the curtain – how the trick works – we’re tempted to walk them through all of the glorious details. It’s amazing, after all. And the details are important. And seeing all the pieces and how they are hooked together is awe-inspiring.
To everyone else, it’s overwhelming (and honestly, boring).
So how do we convey what people need to know without bogging it down with so many details? How do you write a powerful email, prepare a compelling presentation, or lead a productive discussion when the subject matter is deep and wide? When you need to make a point that is clear, memorable, and influential? How do you get that message to resonate with your audience?
Brevity. Focused Brevity.
The temptation is to condense everything. To organize the details in such a way that you can convey them all efficiently.
Items can be summarized into bullet points. Bullet points can be grouped together logically. And diagrams can display concepts and architecture to help show what the bullet points mean.
But condensation is not the way to achieve brevity. Selection is.
To be brief is to be selective. Choosing only the most important details is crucial. There should be just a few. Arranged carefully in your email, presentation, or pitch, they should support the story you’re trying to tell. Because you’re always telling a story, that’s how we communicate most naturally and most effectively.
Think of the classic fables. They are short and punchy and carry a strong and clear message. And each detail that is included is important to the story. Everything non-essential is left out.
And that is the key. Selection. Not compression.
Photo credit: faunzy