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The blessing of brevity

I had the privilege of being a member of Toastmasters International for 18 years. It was one of the most profitable learning experiences of my life.  I learned a ton about leadership and communication. One thing that I think most of you might find interesting is that most speeches in Toastmasters are 5-7 minutes.

That’s right…not 30-45 minutes, like most sermons. Even if you made it to the International finals for best speaker in the world, your speech was only 5-7 minutes.

A graphic designer was asked to design a simple cover for a major magazine.  When he handed in his design along with the bill, the finances people at the magazine were astounded that the cost was so high. They asked why, given that it was such a very simple design. The graphic designer’s response was classic:

You are paying so much because I know what to leave out!

Knowing what to leave out of written and spoken communication is the key to better and more effective communication. Knowing what to leave out is a harder to learn than knowing what to put in.

More is not better when it comes to what we say or write. Less is better. My experience has led me to the conclusion that many communicators try to say too much…and say it too fast, because they have too much to say. If you want people to remember and be able to apply what you say and write, then say less and say it more slowly.

A man went to a florist on his wife’s birthday. “How about a dozen roses,” he was asked. “I want to buy just one,” was his response. “But you can’t just buy just one…get a dozen…say it with flowers.”

“I’m a man of few words, I’ll take just one!”

Being a man or woman of few words is a good thing; but when it comes to buying roses, a dozen is better than one!

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