“Brevity is the soul of wit.” – William Shakespeare, Hamlet
“Less is more.” – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, minimalist architect
“The more you say, the less people remember.” – Francois Fenelon, French Archbishop
Why am I using three quotes when one would do?
Well, that’s sort of my point.
This is what we do. We over-explain. We spell things out that don’t need to be spelled out. We drown people in words.
It doesn’t feel that way when we’re writing. We want to ensure we’re getting our point across. That we’re not missing an important detail.
But — particularly in marketing — this is a huge mistake.
Isn’t It Better to Give People Everything?
No, no, a thousand times no.
- A lot of text is intimidating. Some people just won’t read it at all.
- People get lots of messages, and their time is precious. See number one.
- Most of those who do read will skim. If your key points are hidden in a dense paragraph, they’re more likely to be overlooked.
So, What Should You Do?
Take the time to hone your message down to the essentials.
Write the “long” version if you need to. But then go back and cut as much as possible without losing meaning.
Often, you’ll discover you can lose a lot more than you thought.
If you struggle with this (and honestly, it’s just a good practice in general!), have someone else edit it down.
Other people tend to be less precious and more willing to make cuts. Plus, you’ll learn which parts of your message are clear and resonating – and which aren’t.
Instead of writing full paragraphs like you were taught to do in school, use bullet points or phrases.
As you can see from these examples, not only are bullet points and short phrases easier to read and understand, they tend to catch your attention more.
One important reason — when you write less text, you can make it bigger! It’s a simple way to say, “Hey, look over here!”
Other ways to help?
Break paragraphs up as much as possible.
It’s easier to miss something in a big block of text than if there’s more white space.
Write shorter sentences.
Long sentences feel complicated, whereas short sentences keep it simple. And give people more breaks.
Use pictures, charts, graphics, and numbers.
Ask ChatGPT for help.
Tell it to “make this more concise”. Then see if you like what it came up with.
I could write a whole lot more about writing a whole lot less. But that would defeat the point.
Bottom line: using more words doesn’t mean you’re saying more.
Keep it brief, and you’ll get way more attention.