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The 1-Minute Speech and the Economy of Words

October 24, 2008 · Print This Article
Posted by Mark Bennardo

StopwatchOne of my first communication courses in college (many moons ago) required students to give a one-minute speech.  The speech had to tell something interesting about ourselves and our home towns. One minute—that’s it.  Go over and you fail the assignment.

Our professor’s point was simple:  a speech can never be considered too short if it holds attention and makes a memorable point.  It can be, (and most usually are), however, too long.

It was tough.  The art of effective communication is really tested when you are limited in the amount of time/words you can use. It was a really good exercise, and one I strongly encourage you to try.

The “economy of words” is an important principle to keep in mind when writing/speaking.  It would seem that more words would bring more clarity, but ironically, the more words we use, the more cluttered the message becomes.

Thomas Jefferson is credited with saying, “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”

This has been my shortest post so far. I’m trying to practice what I preach.

4 Responses to “The 1-Minute Speech and the Economy of Words”

  1. Stacey Derbinshire Says:

    I discovered your homepage by coincidence.
    Very interesting posts and well written.
    I will put your site on my blogroll.

  2. Dan Popp Says:

    Mark, great post. Often I feel like verbosity may be a sign for lack of focus. Weed. Distill. Hone that point – don’t dilute it with more yada yada yada.

    Writing haiku (or radio spots) is a good exercise for the discipline of communicating succinctly.

    Cicero said: “When you wish to instruct, be brief; that men’s minds take in quickly what you say, learn its lesson, and retain it faithfully. Every word that is unnecessary only pours over the side of a brimming mind.”.

  3. Mark Bennardo Says:

    Great insights, Dan. I think you should have written this post instead of me!

  4. Antof9 Says:

    And the text of that speech was?

    (Great points, on this and your Twitter entry. I feel the same about status updates on FB.)

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