Be Brief ... Be Gone

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I spent a number of years in the military. And in the course of my work, we had to regularly brief our Group commander on operations that we were going to execute. And there is something that he said in one of the very first briefings I ever did for him, when I was just a young corporal, that I never forgot.

"Be brief, be gone."

Now, that may sound brutal, but really it isn't. It is probably some of the most concise and powerful advice that you can have on almost anything. When you are trying to present something to somebody, be it an elevator pitch, be it a PowerPoint presentation, be it speaking to a room full of people. There is no need to be wordy. In general, when one is trying to communicate, figure out what you have to say, and say it briefly, and clearly. That's it. You're done.

I'm sure we have all sat through various presentations where the presenters have tried to pad their slides with masses of information, and just in general try to make it sound like they had a lot to present. And really, speaking as somebody who has been both a presenter and a member of the audience, that is absolutely needless.

People's time is precious. Don't waste it. Let them know the information that they need to know very clearly and very concisely. They will appreciate it. There is no doubt about that. I would submit that if you are talking to people who like you to be wordy, maybe you are talking to the wrong people.

Simplify, simplify.

Arrange what you need to say, figure out what you want the message to be, and deliver it.

Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them.

And, to follow my own advice, I will now, be gone.