Using just the right words

One of my mentors, David Brooks, speaks about economy of words, and using just the right words to get your message across. His message came home to me when I won the recent humour-hopabout contest. At one stage, I was speaking about Murphy’s law’s of cell phones. and in an early draft I said something like this:

Murphy’s first law of cell phones states that the probability of your phone battery being flat is directly proportional to the urgency of the call that you need to make.

While the point that I was making was funny, I was being convoluted in the way that I was saying it. As soon as the audience heard words like “probability”, and “directly proportional”, they were going to be reminded of high-school math class, and fall asleep. In the final version, I said something¬† like this:

Murphy’s first law of cell phones says that your battery is full if when you don’t need to make a call, but it is flat when you need to make an urgent call.

Short, simple and to the point. The audience can relate it it immediately, and have no trouble following it. It was a minor change to the message, getting exactly the same point across, but in a far more effective manner.

When you speak, consider what yout message it, how you are portraying it, and how effective you are getting it across.

By the way, you can watch my speech here.

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