Communication Skills

JS Tip 152: From the Writing Workshops: Keep It Short


In the writing workshops, we emphasize—on many levels—keeping it short:

Short words (no more three syllables)

Short sentences (no more than fifteen words)

Short paragraphs (no more than six lines)

Short documents (no more than a page)


Because of the attention-span formula:

x = 24/y

In which “y” is the number of interruptions in a day, and “x” is the amount of time we can devote to each of those interruptions.

As interruptions increase, the amount of time we pay attention to those interruptions—our attention span—decreases. (As “y” increases, “x” decreases.)   

And the interruptions keep increasing. By orders of magnitude. Cell phone. E-mail. Text messaging. The interruptions keep coming like the water-carrying brooms in Walt Disney’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

Help your reader, your listener, your audience, by keeping it short.

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