We all live fairly busy lives…juggling the constant pushes and pulls of living…family, work, research, teaching, mentoring, and leadership roles.
In these busy times, brevity may sometimes the need of the hour. On the one hand, brevity forces us to distill a message to its very core. But, the tradeoff with brevity is that it can make things overly simplistic and reductionist and in doing so sacrifice much. For research, we have long papers, short papers, paper abstracts and paper titles. Then we have hour-long talks, short talks and the cocktail party or elevator versions of talks.
I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.
Similarly, the German theologian Martin Luther, the guiding light of the Reformation movement in Europe attributed said:
If I had my time to go over again, I would make my sermons much shorter, for I am conscious they have been too wordy.
According to an anecdote published in 1918 Woodrow Wilson was asked about the amount of time he spent preparing speeches, and his response was illuminating:
“That depends on the length of the speech,” answered the President. “If it is a ten-minute speech it takes me all of two weeks to prepare it; if it is a half-hour speech it takes me a week; if I can talk as long as I want to it requires no preparation at all. I am ready now.”
The ascendancy of Twitter is a true testament to this longing and urgent need among people for brevity.
Here are some exercises in brevity to convey powerful thoughts