06 Mar 2007

Less is MORE

You’ve probably heard this expression:  Less is more.  But what does it really mean?

I mean we probably all want more money, more time, more peace.  But unless you adore snow, the recent white outs in Minneapolis should hit home why less is more.  More was actually dangerous.

One area where most of us can stand to conserve is our use of language.  When I worked in TV news, I had to make less really equal more because one minute-thirty second stories (or shorter) were the rule of the day.

Now with my clients, I’m constantly reviewing “less is more” strategies.  Whether that be giving media training and teaching about effective sound bites.  Or as presentation coach, instructing about re-phrasing $10 words to their more colorful, concise, and clear cousins.

Whenever I give a presentation myself, I aim to leave my audience wishing I’d go on awhile longer.  Hoping to deliver so effectively they don’t even realize 30 minutes, 60 minutes, or even more have passed.  Expressions like Best wishes!, Great job!, Nice going!, all convey in short what a longer line risks not communicating.

To my journalism students, I teach the Elimination List:  a, that, the, of.  Is every use of these words necessary in your writing?  Try reading your document, script, or proposal out loud and see how many words from the Elimination List you can cut.  Of course, some the’s are a must.  But where they’re not, why not make fewer the greater way to phrase?

Good luck!  I wish you less worry and more satisfaction on your journey to great expression.

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