Brief Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2014-02-17
  • Publisher: Wiley
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Get heard by being clear and concise

The only way to survive in business today is to be a lean communicator. Busy executives expect you to respect and manage their time more effectively than ever. You need to do the groundwork to make your message tight and to the point. The average professional receives 304 emails per week and checks their smartphones 36 times an hour and 38 hours a week. This inattention has spread to every part of life. The average attention span has shrunk from 12 seconds in 2000 to eight in 2012.

So, throw them a lifeline and be brief.

Author Joe McCormack tackles the challenges of inattention, interruptions, and impatience that every professional faces. His proven B.R.I.E.F. approach, which stands for Background, Relevance, Information, Ending, and Follow up, helps simplify and clarify complex communication. BRIEF will help you summarize lengthy information, tell a short story, harness the power of infographics and videos, and turn monologue presentations into controlled conversations.

  • Details the B.R.I.E.F. approach to distilling your message into a brief presentation
  • Written by the founder and CEO of Sheffield Marketing Partners, which specializes in message and narrative development, who is also a recognized expert in Narrative Mapping, a technique that helps clients achieve a clearer and more concise message

Long story short: BRIEF will help you gain the muscle you need to eliminate wasteful words and stand out from the rest. Be better. Be brief.


Table of Contents





PART ONE Awareness

Heightened Awareness in a World Begging for BRIEF

CHAPTER ONE Why Brevity is Vital

Get to the point or pay the price

Executive — Interrupted

Who’s responsible for adapting when the message is not being heard?

Timing is of the essence

BRIEF Balance: The harmony of clear, concise, and compelling

A BRIEF Timeout

CHAPTER TWO Mindful of Mind-filled-ness

Brevity is like an instant stress release

The flood

1. Information inundation — the water’s rising

2. Inattention — the muscle is weakening

3. Interruption — the rate is alarming

4. Imatience — the ice is thinning

What does it all mean?

Your new reality: There’s no time for a slow build up

Test yourself

Examination of brevity

A new professional standard

CHAPTER THREE Why You Struggle With Brevity: The Seven Capital Sins

Why is it so difficult?

1. Cowardice

2. Confidence

3. Callousness

4. Comfort

5. Confusion

6. Complication:

7. Carelessness:

CHAPTER FOUR The Big Bang of Brevity

A success story

PART TWO Discipline
How to Gain Discipline to be Clear and Concise

CHAPTER FIVE Mental Muscle Memory to Master Brevity

The exercise of brevity

CHAPTER SIX Map It: From Mind Mapping to BRIEF Maps

Your 11th-grade English teacher was right

Excuse to impact ratio

An outline is missing, and so is the sale

Mind mapping and the modern outline

BRIEF Maps: A practical tool to delivering brevity

How a BRIEF Map can be used

Wrong Approach: Bob chooses to share but not to prepare.

Right Approach: Bob prepares a BRIEF Map and maintains executive support.

Step 1: Build a BRIEF Box

Step 2: B, or the Background/Beginning

Step 3: R, or Reason/Relevance

Step 4: I, or key Information

Step 5: E, or intended Ending

Step 6: F, expected Follow-up questions

Result: A successful update

BRIEF Maps: What’s the payoff?

CHAPTER SEVEN Tell it: The Role of Narratives

I’m tired of meaningless and meandering corporate jargon. I’m ready for a good story.

Where’s the disconnect? When a story is missing.

The birth of Narrative Mapping: A way to organize and deliver your story

Rediscovery of narratives and storytelling: breaking through the blah, blah, blah

Listen, I’m ready for a story

Think about your audience: Journalism 2.0 and the elements of a narrative

Warning #1: Keep stories short

Warning #2: Don’t fall in love with fables and the “Once Upon A Time” trap

Warning #3: Don’t just promote storytelling; teach it

Narrative Map (de)constructed

Seeing and hearing is believing: The story of the evolution of commerce

CHAPTER EIGHT Talk it: Controlled Conversations and TALC Tracks

Risky business trip

Controlled conversations are a game of tennis, not golf

TALC Tracks — A structure for balance and brevity

Be prepared for anything

Audience, Audience, Audience.

CHAPTER NINE Show It: Powerful Ways to Make a Picture Exceed a Thousand Words

Show and Tell: which would you choose?

You can see the shift

Seeing supersedes reading

A visual language

Connect an image with your story

Momentary magic: Infographics in business

Breakdown of complex information

The age of YouTube and business

TL;DR: Too Long; Didn’t Read

CHAPTER TEN Putting Brevity to Work: Grainger and the Al and Betty Story

PART THREE Decisiveness
Gaining the decisiveness to know when and where to be brief

CHAPTER ELEVEN Meeting You Half-Way

Defeat the villains of meetings

Meeting villain #1: Time

Meeting villain #2: Type

Meeting villain #3: Tyrants

Change the format and tone — make it a conversation

Put brief back into a briefing

Long story, short.

CHAPTER TWELVE Leaving a Smaller Digital Imprint

The digital flood

BRIEF Hall of Fame: Verne Harnish

From social media to venture capital

Social Media Squeeze

Long story, short.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN Presenting a Briefer Case

Practicing what you preach

The discipline of brevity

Putting the power back in PowerPoint

Training like a TED Talk

CHAPTER FOURTEEN Trimming Your Sales (Pitch)

Shut up and sell

Billboard on a bumper sticker

Cut to the customer’s chase

Long story, short.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN Whose Bright Idea Was That Anyway?

Your big idea

A mission-critical narrative

Clear picture with radical focus

The entrepreneur’s dilemma: mixed messages

Tailor your pitch to your investor’s needs

Long story, short.

CHAPTER SIXTEEN It’s Never Really Small Talk

Brevity as a conversational life raft

Momentary misgivings stall momentum

Walk the walk, talk the talk

Long story, short.

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN Help Wanted: Master of Brevity

Not the time for anxious rambling

Let others lead the conversation

Talking your way out of a job offer

Long story, short.

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN I’ve Got Some Good News

Pay the favor of brevity forward

Let the brilliance shine through

Speak the language of success

Get into the habit of saying thank you

CHAPTER NINETEEN And the Bad News Is ...

The bright (and brief) side of bearing bad news

Give it to them straight

Serving up the s#&$ sandwich

CHAPTER TWENTY Got-A-Minute Updates

The “say-do” ratio

The most important question: Why am I here?


Summary and Action Plan




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