The people who run the wonderful TED talks have it figured out: people don’t pay attention for much longer than 18 minutes.
They understand the broader context: we live in the age of Information Overload. In the competition for “mindshare,” you need to be tight. Compelling. Persuasive.
The private sector knows this. They run short 30 second commercials. Billboards. Concise powerful messaging is all around us. It penetrates our minds and influences our behavior.
So, the social sector is always pushing out the communication, and people want to hear it, but all that passion for social change too often results in a flood of words and information.
More is not better.
Here’s our advice to clients: parsimony is your watchword. Your business plan is short– 6-7 pages, with mostly white space. Keep your letters brief. Shorten your event programs to 20 minutes. Cut the verbiage out of the website. Push out those newsletters, but keep them under 500 words. If you have something long to say, put it in a white paper. Cancel the 4, 6, 8-hour retreat, and keep your board meetings under an hour.
There’s a lot more we can say here. But– parsimony. Its the only way to manage effectively in the Age of Information Overload.
The immortal William Stunk and E.B. White said it best. Omit needless words.
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