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The Power of Saying Less

April 24, 2023

Less is more. Keep it simple, stupid. Brevity is the soul of wit.

So many little words to express one big idea: We’re all talking—and writing—way too much.

A lifelong lover of words turned professional communicator, I’m no stranger to verbosity. I have often joked that I would rather write a 1,000-page essay than a brief tagline, because being understood in only a few words is hard.

But it’s what we must do.

With the dizzying growth of generative AI and self-publishing platforms, everyone is a content creator. And getting anyone to pay attention to your content requires cutting through the chitchat with surgical precision.

Axios set the comms world astir when it introduced its Smart Brevity methodology, which can be applied to a range of internal and external materials, from executive missives to corporate newsletters.

And it’s changed the way I approach every piece of content. Short sentences. Simple words. Bullet points. Bolding.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still a sucker for beautiful, long-form prose. Many moons ago, I studied English Language & Literature inside ivy-wreathed halls, just a few paces from where Toni Morrison and Joyce Carol Oates taught creative writing to the world’s next Jonathan Safran Foers.

But that sums up the point here. In writing, not only is the medium the message, but the medium dictates the form the message must take to draw engagement and prompt an outcome.

When I am helping my clients communicate—in a LinkedIn post, on a blog—I am not writing the next great American novel. We are driving home key messages and, in turn, driving action.

There is an economy of words, and those who win big in the war for attention will be those who say less, better.

By Jade Faugno, Senior Vice President