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Why I Recommend Twitter: 140 Characters is All You Get

March 20, 2009 · Print This Article
Posted by Mark Bennardo

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It’s been interesting to me to see how much national attention has been put on Twitter lately.  While it’s been around for a couple years now, it’s being fully thrust into our cultural mainstream.

I’ve been using Twitter for over a year now. I’m not a massive user and don’t have a ton of followers, like some people, but I would consider myself “active”.

There are several reasons why I use Twitter, but I won’t get into that in this post.  I’d rather discuss one of the best benefits I find to using Twitter.  Here it is:

Limiting posts to only 140 characters makes us better communicators.

As a culture, there is so much clutter in the way we communicate.  And we’ve become lazy in our communication.  I believe that we’ve dismissed the need to be concise and set aside our need to develop our vocabularies and conventions of speech.

Being a clear communicator has become somewhat rare anymore.  People are forgetting how to make a clear statement and then make a cogent point about it.

As I produce events all over the country, I have the privilege (or curse?) of listening to a lot of different speakers.  Overwhelmingly, I find myself bored and distracted by their lack of clarity and inability to make a solid point without meandering rabbit trails.  Tangents, vocal pauses, verbally cluttered illustrations and unfocused talking points confuse the audience and make for a dreadful presentation.  I’m convinced that most speakers think that the longer they speak, the more value they give to the listener.  I couldn’t disagree more.

I’ve written before about the need for brevity in communication.  That’s why I love Twitter.  It forces you to make a clear and (hopefully) compelling statement in 140 characters or less.

That’s not always an easy task.  If you’re like me (and you use Twitter) you’ve probably found yourself starting to cringe at times as you see your available “character count” start to dwindle before you’re ready to end your tweet.  I really get nervous when I’m in the “red zone” and haven’t finished my thought.

I often find myself having to go back and restate my tweet so that it fits in the allotted space.  It forces me to be concise, creative and clear.  My tweets are almost always better because of it.

It didn’t take me long to realize that this discipline is making me a better communicator in general.  This exercise to my “communication muscle” is making me a better communicator in my business, in my telephone skills, with my friends and with my wife & kids.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting we all start talking in tweet-sized nuggets in every area of our lives.  I am suggesting that the more we focus on being clear, brief and concise, the more it will force us to cut the clutter, find just the right words we need, and be more compelling communicators.

If you’re on Twitter and would like to follow me, I’d be honored.  Let’s keep the conversation going.  You can find me here:

3 Responses to “Why I Recommend Twitter: 140 Characters is All You Get”

  1. Eileen B. Says:

    Good point, Mark. Thanks for writing, or tweeting. Whatever the case may be.

  2. George Tuft Says:

    I’ll one-up you…my text messages on my phone are limited to 120 characters. I’ve been struggling with those constraints for a while now.

    However, I’m going to respectfully disagree with you regarding the 140 character limit on Twitter. My experience has been that when we are limited to a specific number of characters, we tend to do things like abbreviate, drop punctuation and use chatspeak: LOL, ROFL.

    So, IMHO, I’d argue that while a 140 character limitation might force some communicators to refine their message, it also justifies a less articulate communication style.

  3. Mark Bennardo Says:

    That’s a great point, George, and I totally agree. I almost referenced that issue in my post.

    I was going to add that I try to stay within the primary constraints of standard English when I tweet (and avoid those shortcuts). I decided not to add it, though because I thought it might make my post too long (and go against my own point). Good thoughts!

    By the way, I particularly dislike, “LOL.” Something may be cute or funny, but did it really make you “laugh out loud?” I will, however, use “IMHO” sometimes.

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