How Long is Too Long?
It’s a Twitter world of 140 characters and if you want me to listen to me an take you seriously there’s a new standard of short and clear. That’s why this article is important to you if you’re not a reclusive that lives on an island and talks to no one. It’s important if you need to be heard by your boss, colleagues, and team members, family, and the world.
Your competition is growing by the second to be heard. 205 billion email messages are sent per day and almost 2.4 million emails are sent every second and some 74 trillion emails are sent per year. Those numbers grow exponentially every year.
Here are the simple principles vital to getting heard
- Tell me what your point is in the very first or second sentence. Don’t take a paragraph to make your point. In the 20 th Century we could use several pages to “set up” what we were going to say before we told anyone what our point was going to be. Today if you don’t tell me why you’re taking up my time and life, I’m moving on in the nanosecond of a click.
- Use a subject, verb, and object to explain where you’re taking me. You must take the approach of a lawyer describing to a jury his/her case in a b-grade murder novel. “I will show that the butler killed Ms. Pumpernickel with a knife in the library.” Everything after that opening statement is supportive, and if your reader just reads the first sentence, you’ve made your point.
- Be concise—but not too concise. I have made my articles more brief every year—from 3,000 to 700 and shortening. You must get to the point early and be clear, but brevity can be too brief. Some writers try to make their point in a 100 words or so, and although that’s possible in some cases, you have a to include enough supporting evidence to be taken seriously.
- Use vivid images that stick in your readers’ minds. Visual images are remembered for thousands of years. If today I told you that you need to save for the future, your eyes might glaze over. But if I told you the ancient story of the ant an the grasshopper, that the ant stored for the winter and the grasshopper froze to death, you would remember that.
So when you communicate, tell me what you want to know clearly and briefly, and the most important point of all—don’t bore me. You have to be vivid, lively, accurate, and a really good story teller, if you want to be heard today.