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

In business, longer is usually not better. More business professionals want to get to the point quickly so a decision can be made.

My mentor, Harmon Born, used to say “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” What he means is that when we really focus on a project, the simple way is usually the best approach. I get these emails from companies that are long, and it takes a chunk of time to get to the point. In reality, they could have zeroed in on the subject in about one paragraph.

An example of when you want to be long winded is if you are an appraiser. An appraisal is never read completely because it is so very long and goes painfully into verbiage about every aspect of the property that is being appraised. With an appraisal, there needs to be a weighty factor involved; the report needs to be thick, so when it goes in the file no one will question if it was done well.

Aside from the appraisal example, the better approach is to be on point and focused whether it is speaking or the written word.

There is no better example of this subject than Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address. A guy by the name of Edward Everett, who was a politician, pastor, educator and diplomat, spoke right before Lincoln was to make his address. Everett’s speech was two hours long and 13,607 words. Aside from the fact that the audience tuned him out after five minutes, he wanted to show everyone how smart he was, and he especially wanted Lincoln to be impressed with him. After he finished, the President of the United States steps up and delivered a three paragraph speech known as the Gettysburg address. It was so short that it stunned the audience. Lincoln only spoke for a few minutes and sat back down. I have often wondered what Everett thought after the President finished in a few minutes and he talked on and on for two hours.

Ask yourself, which speech got more recognition? Obviously it was Lincoln’s, and that little speech has gone into history as one of the finest examples of English public oratory.

We have a term at Hotel AG called SIBKIS. It means to “see it big and keep it simple.” So, when Harmon Born said that if he had more time, he would have written a shorter letter, I knew what he meant. KT

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