Let’s start with a question:
To make your point effectively, should your communication be:
a) short and sweet
– or –
b) lengthy and in-depth?
Professional communications are any medium used to communicate at work.
Presentations, reports, emails.
Imagine you’re running a fish and chip shop in your favourite seaside town.
You proudly post the following sign outside your shop:
“Fresh fish sold here daily”
Your local council charges by the word for these signs.
However, business is good and the customers keep coming in.
You face a dilemma:
Save money by getting rid of unnecessary words – but risk losing business as a result.
Common sense suggests the words ‘sold’, ‘here’ and ‘daily’ are surplus to requirement.
The sign could read ‘fresh fish’.
Or you could get rid of the sign completely.
Rely on repeat business, word of mouth.
The smell of fish and chips wafting down the high street.
We all face a fresh fish dilemma in or corporate communication.
When making a presentation, do we show 50 slides – our workings in the margin?
Or slim it down to five?
When speaking to the media, do we wax lyrical about our the design of a new product?
Or tell people how it will help them and where they can buy it?
When writing an email, do we cover our backsides by explaining our decision?
Or back ourselves to simply tell people what we’ve decided?
Our answer is simple.
When it comes to professional communications, people appreciate brevity.
In all its forms.
Consider how many times you’ve sat in the audience of a presentation and thought:
“This is going on too long”.
Versus how many times you’ve thought:
“I wish that went on longer”.
Many versus few, I would hazard.
On the rare occasion, you have wanted more I expect you sought it by:
So the next time you wonder: “how long should it be?”
The answer is: as short as possible.
Or remove the sign completely.
Andrew McFarlan is the Managing Director of Pink Elephant Communications in Glasgow.
You can view his full profile here.
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