According to Dr. Donald E. Wetmore of the Productivity Institute, 90% of those who join health and fitness clubs will stop going within the first 90 days. Was going to the gym one of your new year’s resolutions?
Let limits guide you
Here’s a speaking and writing resolution that you can keep. I call it the Rule of 333, which will give you greater impact in conveying your information. The rule is based on applying limits, such as keeping:
- emails to 300 words
- voicemails to 30 seconds
- pitches to 3 minutes
How you will benefit from setting limits
You’ll find that simply by applying limits to whatever you need to communicate, you create a domino effect that chisels your data into meaningful chunks of information. For instance, you will start converting passive verbs to active verbs to save words and strengthen your point, while also adding white space and pauses to make your document or speech easier for the audience to absorb your ideas.
If you write or speak without limits in mind you will drift into a stream of consciousness, similar to that college professor from freshman English pacing back and forth wearing a corduroy jacket with suede elbow patches, yakking in monotone about… something.
However, when you give yourself a hard stop at a reasonable point, you force yourself to:
- get to the purpose quickly and remove fluff content
- cut the adjectives and adverbs because they do not add value
- avoid adding redundant data which cannibalizes your main point
I stick with a 500 word limit for my blog posts. Some articles exceed that number, which I can accept once in a while. I’m confident that you’re reading this blog to learn a quick tip that you can use now. Providing a quick tip means that I have to deliver my message in a brief, entertaining and informative manner.
When you’re speaking or writing, you’re hosting an information party. People will come back to your party if you give them what they want, without force feeding or boring them.
Invite the audience to learn more
In addition, setting limits to your writing or speaking invites the audience to ask for more information on their terms. Too often we shove our research down the throats of our audience simply because we feel compelled to share that information since we spent so much time and effort finding it — and showing it off via fascinating PowerPoint slides.
As consumers of information, we sign up for the newsletters, RSS feeds and tweets that interest us. When you craft your message in a clear and concise manner, you encourage your audience to turn to you as a trusted resource. Once you earn someone’s trust and desire to receive more information, then you can continue to share in a moderate fashion to keep them coming back to you.
Good luck and let me know how this rule is working for you.