Yesterday was the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address — the inspirational and famously short speech that Lincoln predicted would not be long-remembered.
In only 272 words President Lincoln was praised for reinvigorating national ideals of freedom, liberty and justice amid a Civil War that had torn the country into pieces. He said few words but they’re remembered even today.
Leaving an impact in only a few words is an art, and one that requires special discipline, especially by we women who love to talk and communicate, usually with lots of words.
Brevity is beautiful, and practicing this discipline is something I’ve grown to love doing, be it in speaking, writing, or something as simple as sending an email.
Twitter and texting have forced brevity, but brevity alone is not the goal. Brevity with impact is the art worth mastering.
Here’s the method I use…
First write what you really want to say with all the words you feel like using. Then go back and critically look at every word, forcing edits, getting rid of every word not essential for the core message. I might even cut out entire sentences or paragraphs at this stage. It’s not easy sometimes, but “cut, cut, and more cut” is the mantra to use.
I then reread the passage, do one more cut-through, and hope it’s clear, succinct, and enjoyable. There is a pleasure in reading something well-written, meaningful, and pithy!
The end goal is making an impact and being heard, and perhaps even being remembered, just like Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is… 70 score and ten years ago.