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We live in an age of over-communication. Our senses are overloaded daily by a barrage of words, pictures, videos, pop-ups, commercials and more, all vying for our attention. As a result, we pay less and less attention to more and more communication.
How does one penetrate this enormous multitude of words effectively and capture the recipient’s attention? It’s a question we ask ourselves daily across numerous contexts. A new book, Smart Brevity, written by Jim VendeHei, Mike Allen and Roy Schwartz, talks to this challenge – briefly =
The Fog Of Words, as the authors call it, is hardly a new phenomenon. We are all prone to distraction to one degree or another. The explosion of such distractions – and words, makes getting through to people truly challenging. The authors’ answer: Adapt to how people consume content; change the way you communicate.
My chocolate chip cookie recipe is a perfect example of a prevalent and repetitive failure to receive information. As many of you know, our forums feature chocolate chip cookies at lunch. These are the same cookies you had as a kid, with two notable exceptions:
1. No nuts
2. 3X the chips
Naively I thought this easy recipe will be flawlessly executed by every pastry chef in the hotels where we hold forums. Alas, I was proven wrong time and time again. The recipe readers continued to bake the cookies “their way” regardless of the level of detail I provided (including pictures and purchasing the Toll House chips myself). At a recent Forum in Miami I actually met with the executive chef, who was extremely frustrated with my cookie dissatisfaction. He even brought the printed recipe to show me how attentive he was to the instructions, only to realize that he read “cups” where the recipe said “bags”, which were twice as many chips.
This failure to communicate plagues all of us. Following Smart Brevity we can meaningfully increase the odds of effectively communicating with your various audience at work, at home and elsewhere.
Smart Brevity has four main parts (in writing; but the principles translate to other communication channels).
• A tease – 6 or less words top capture one’s attention
• A strong first sentence – direct, short, sharp and memorable
• Why it matters – creating context for the ideas you’re transmitting
• The option to go deeper – give people the option to read more if they so choose, but don’t force them to do so.
There is much more to be said, but reading more is up to you. Get the book or listen to the 13 minute YouTube video by the authors. Less IS more!
New in the Nest:
This column will offer fool proof recipes, restaurant suggestions and other foodie tidbits for your consideration and consumption.
You can find more tasty recipes in the Recipe Archive