Just A Few Words . . .



150 years ago, two men gave speeches at a cemetery. The first, a noted politician, educator, and orator, spoke for 2 hours. The second gentleman spoke for only about 2 minutes. While very few know of the first man’s name, virtually everyone knows the second. Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is perhaps one of the most famous speeches in history despite it’s brevity.

We’ve seen this before – people in positions of influence who use long words and even longer paragraphs to convey their message. They run ever on, and don’t realize they never had anyone at “Hello.”

There has been much talk in the blogging world in the last month about this subject. Karin Hurt’s Let’s Grow Leaders had a March #Meanit Madness theme. Terri Klass’s blog entry on this item just three days ago focused on words saying what they need to say.

Yet many fail to see it. This week a leadership article I read (remaining nameless in respect to the author and publication) had a whopping 1177 words, all on the subject of brevity!! (BTW – this post has 331 words.)

As leaders, we can say much more with fewer words. Keeping it simple means keeping it understandable. In case we forget, we can keep the following simple proportions in mind:

1 mouth. Say what’s needed more simply, because we have…

2 ears. We should know when to listen more than we speak.

2 eyes. Watch how our words impact others, and see when we’ve lost them, or should have finished a few moments ago.

How can you better impact others with fewer words? How can we say more by saying less?

Back in the 1920’s, President Calvin Coolidge was widely known as a man of few words. At a large gathering, a gentleman walked up to Coolidge and said, “Mr. President, I’ve made a sizable wager with my friend that I can get you to say three words tonight.”

Mr. Coolidge’s reply? “You lose.”

Say it simply that you, and others, may win.


(image courtesy of blogs.voices.com)

About Paul LaRue

My goal - To encourage you to lead & influence others with positive impact.

Posted on April.10.2014, in Leadership. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Hi Paul, Thanks for the important conversation. Carefully choosing words that will help us say what must be said in a way that can be heard is so important. Great post. #meanit


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