For the first time in ages, I have trawled the media and haven’t found anything that jumps out as a subject that relates to what we do relating to communications and marketing. The are a few contenders, Lloyds latest cyber attack, dating websites being hacked for data and the obvious small event that has gone on in the US. However, they have all be done to death and that is not what we are about.
Then it struck me, how often are you sitting in a presentation or reading a document and think, the author or presenter could have said in 100 words, what they have just taken 1000 to do. In truth, most people will try and “fill out” documents with more than is necessary and I think this goes back to our school days. When we are school we are told to write 1000 word essays or 10,000 word dissertations at University and this sets the trends for the rest of our lives.
However, my experience suggests that the best communicators are those that have two main attributes:
• They are comfortable that the subject they are talking about is accurate and have undertaken their research.
• They are confident in their ability to communicate the message, succinctly.
I find myself talking to my son about his homework a lot these days and sometimes saying you need to write more otherwise you won’t get a good mark, but why? Surely if you can get a message across in 50 words, why should you write two pages.
In business, we are all constantly fighting for time, we have so many pieces of communication to read and we can’t afford to have too much irrelevant information so when a long document is sent it fills us with dread, do I really need to read this? Working with a client before Christmas, we received a website audit from one of the agencies that was 117 pages long, I didn’t get past the first page and ended up asking them to produce a summary document in no more than five pages. If I didn’t have time to read it and I had been brought in to do a very specific role, what chance the CEO and board reading it, none.
So the answer is simple, scope out any piece of communication, prepare a draft and then ask yourself, if it was delivered to you, would you read it and would you get the necessary information from it, if not, it is too long.
That is just my opinion though, what do you think?