Cut communication

I spend a lot of time reading about writing and marketing. My objective? To identify techniques that can be applied to internal communication.

Here’s an interesting notion I came across today, from copywriting experts Evan and Michael Katz. Their premise is simple: “Most writing is about one-quarter too long. For those of you without a yardstick handy, here’s a simple way to think about it—for every four sentences you write, you could probably stand to cut one.”

Their advice: “Next time you write a first draft, go back over it and pick out one of every four sentences and see if it can be removed.”

This is a great concept, one that can be applied to all your channels. Consider getting out your scissors to cut 25% by:

  • Instead of producing a two-minute video, edit it down to 90 seconds.
  • Shorten your town halls from one hour to 45 minutes. (Reduce presentation time, but don’t cut the Q&A!)
  • Eliminate one quarter of all emails. (And when it comes to organizational announcements, 70% could be slashed.) 
  • Cut the content in each email. If you usually write 400 words, hack out 100. If your standard is 250, get rid of 62 words.
  • Next time you’re creating a PowerPoint, trim 25% (or more) of the content on each slide. If you do so, you might end up creating more slides—fine if you keep them moving.
  • Take a close look at posters and electronic screens. Fewer is better: 10 words is the best practice for headlines, for example. But see how low you can go.

Speaking of going, I’m out of space. See you!

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