This past weekend, I had the honor of attending the convocation ceremonies for two of my daughters graduating from university. These were the first such ceremonies I’d seen, and I was touched by the formality and seriousness bestowed on the occasion. It was gratifying as a parent to see the hard work, dedication, and determination of so many students recognized and rewarded in such a way.
However (and if you know me at all, you’ll have seen that however coming!), the nearly relentless speeches that preceded the ceremonies weren’t quite so enjoyable for me…and judging from the number of nodding heads I spied in the audience (not the agreement kind of nodding), many others felt the same way. While many of the speakers might have wonderful messages to share, those messages were being lost in a sea of unnecessary words.
As I sat there through speech after speech after yawn speech, trying not to fidget (or whine too much at my poor husband), it occurred to me that the speakers weren’t the only ones to lose their audiences by way of verbosity. All too often, I realized, writers make the same error of using simply too many words for the message at hand.
Think about it. As a reader, how often have you thumbed through page after page of narrative that seemed to go on forever and serve no purpose? And how many times have you then had to go back through that dismissed section to find the one gem of information buried within that you actually need? Worse, how many of you just couldn’t be bothered to do so?
That, my friends, is a message that is lost in just too many words. No matter how astute a writer’s (or speaker’s) insight might be, no matter how jaw-droppingly amazing, it simply doesn’t matter if the audience is lost before that message is delivered. Sometimes — and here’s my own little gem of insight, so pay attention — sometimes less really is more.
And far, far more powerful.
In a nutshell, people: Brevity. Learn it. Own it. Practice it. The world will thank you for it, and trust me — they’re far more likely to read/hear what it is that you’re trying to tell them.
P.S. And just so you know, I wrote this entire blog while sitting through one of the speeches. Yup, it was that long. I rest my case. 😉
P.P.S. Did you happen to notice how short I kept this post? Pretty good, huh? 😉