The Power of Brevity

Here’s an interesting counterpoint to my recent posts on the peril of overly relying on PowerPoint to communicate clearly and thoroughly:

“[Business schools] should teach students how to communicate in five-sentence e-mails and with 10-slide PowerPoint presentations,” Alltop founder Guy Kawasaki tells the New York Times’ Adam Bryant (3/19/10). “If they just taught every student that, American business would be much better off.”

No one wants to read “War and Peace” e-mails. Ditto for 40 info-impacted PowerPoint slides. The more you explain, the more points you try to impart, the more overwritten your language, the more you’re likely to be ignored or, ironically, misunderstood. Little to nothing stands out — except, perhaps, little bits here and there that can be taken out of context and used against you later. (You know how some workplaces can be…)

Lesson: If you can’t say it in a few lines, have a face-to-face and follow up on that conversation with a memo of understanding. Okay, I’ll stop now.

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