CHAPTER 12

The Gift of Brevity

As much as I’d like this chapter to be brief, brevity demands an enormous investment of time and energy. As Goethe put it in a letter to a friend, “If I had had more time, this would have been a shorter letter.”

First, let’s identify some root causes that undermine brevity. The opposites of brevity—waffling, droning, repetition, or other forms of boring an audience to death—occur because of predictable and avoidable issues that are best resolved before you tell a story. At the same time, editing too much or too soon in pursuit of the perfect “sound bite” or “elevator speech” can prune your story so severely that it can cripple its power to communicate.

What Is Your Story?

Brevity demands that you edit according ...

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