Modeling Brevity – Know How Much to Communicate

23 March 2016
23 March 2016, Comments: 0

Communication – How much to communicate

I co-facilitated a strategic management workshop at the Banff Centre. Jim was the senior partner and had outstanding experience to share. When Jim was asked a question, he gave a thorough example. But he didn’t stop there, he often shared a second situation, and sometimes even a third.

On the final day of the 5-day workshop Jim was asked a question to which he gave an excellent answer, complete with details from a client experience. He continued giving a second and third example to solidify the point. He then asked Charlie, our other co-facilitator, if he had anything to add.

Charlie stood up and said, “I’m modeling brevity” and sat down. The entire class broke out in laughter. Including Jim!

Neither Jim’s nor Charlie’s communication styles are wrong. As leaders, we need to read the room and decide how much we need to give them so that they understand the idea and do something with it. We need to be flexible and give the listeners what they need – not what we feel like sharing!

When a topic is new the recipients need to hear more than one illustration of the concept. This helps them make sense of the novel information.

When listeners are more comfortable with the idea then giving them less is often all that is needed.

The “more with less” concept should be applied to your written and verbal communications.

  • Don’t explain more than they need at the time.
  • Simplify your explanation so that you are sharing the important parts, not everything.
  • Be clear on what you want people to do next.


Unfortunately, Charlie died of cancer a few months after this workshop. His “modeling brevity” comment still resonates with me when I’m thinking about how much to share. I hope this story helps you consider saying “more with less.”

Want to be a better communicator? Need some help mapping out how much to say and how to say it? I love coaching leaders in communication.

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