12Cut Through the Clutter

If it takes a lot of words to say what you have in mind,give it more thought.

DENNIS ROCH

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” That famous opening from Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities illustrates three key principles for how people with presence think and plan their communication:

• Grab attention to be heard.

• Summarize succinctly to be clear.

• Be brief to be appreciated.

Beginnings should grab people’s attention whether you’re writing an epic novel, telling an anecdote, or presenting your budget for the year. But beginnings can’t go on too long, or they become the muddled middle. That’s why the conventional wisdom in Hollywood is that you’ll never sell your movie if you can’t summarize the ...

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