Feb 172021

In a knowledge-based society, in knowledge-based work, effective communication is paramount to success.

I work within the enterprise software business where concepts, technology, ideas, architecture, and roadmaps are my world 24 / 7, 365 days each year. Not only is it crucial to communicate with clarity, it is important that the communication is remarkable and memorable. If you have what felt like a great meeting, but people don’t remember the key ideas one week later, your efforts have failed and disappeared in the quicksand of the common technology terms everyone uses.

The longer I serve, struggle, experiment, and learn, the more I realize that most of us are ignoring the simplest of rules that is simultaneously obvious yet rarely followed: Be concise.

I see this scenario repeat a dozen times each week. I watch a guru present on her topic. She nails it in the first 15 minutes. If the meeting stopped at that moment, it could have been enough and perfect to earn a first down, it would give people time to ask questions, to think about it, and then regroup for the next set of downs with refreshed minds. But that does not happen. Instead, the presenter goes on for another 45 min, drowning the people with details that dilute the message. The top 3 memorable takeaways turn into the top 20 thoughts and the magic is lost. Techno-term quicksand takes over.

Although this quote is often attributed to Abraham Lincoln, Blaise Pascal, or Mark Twain, as each man used and believed in it, it originated from Roman statesman supreme, Marcus Tullius Cicero:

If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.


In a world overwhelmed by data, information, and communication, it holds a lesson for all of us. To be more effective, learn and invest the time to be concise.

I.M. Optimisman