In continuation with my interest in the importance of brevity in communication (to a greater extent in written communication, and to some extent for verbal), this post is made up of some interesting quotes on brevity that I came across.
The quotes are in blue. Now after you’ve read each quote, I urge you spend a moment to reflect upon it.
Your objective, with every email (unless it is written for a lover or for an old friend), should be such…
“It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
And in case you can’t, here’s your excuse for sending insanely long emails…
“I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter.”
― Blaise Pascal, The Provincial Letters
Here’s the kind of time you need to prepare, before addressing an audience…
“If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half an hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now.”
― Woodrow Wilson
Apart from the essence of preparation and importance of brevity, Thomas Woodrow Wilson very interestingly and brilliantly captured the 80:20 principle (Pareto’s) in the above quote.
Now here’s a cheap shot at all the novels out there. Hollywood and Bollywood among others could get killed if a quote like this is taken seriously.
“A novel is just a story that hasn’t yet discovered a way to be brief.”
― George Saunders
Imagine the story-writer condensing his entire novel into a brief story of 5-6 sentences or less. The movie guys might wonder, “to hell with making the movie; after all, what would we put in it?”
And if you thought writing work emails is easy, well, here’s the effort that goes into it.
“Writing is 1 percent inspiration, and 99 percent elimination.”
― Louise Brooks
And finally, the funniest and coolest one.
“Be sincere, Be brief, Be seated.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt
Now while I’ve been working on improving my email writing skills (mostly in my work emails) for some time now, I must admit that while it takes some effort to make all your content as concise as you possibly can, you must always be careful of not going to the other extreme, i.e. making the email so concise that the objective or purpose itself is lost.
If you liked this post, here’s one that you might find interesting too [So what’s your Point?]