Seven score and 10 years ago the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, delivered what is arguably the most powerful speech by any sitting U.S. president, the Gettysburg Address.
Just 272 words! Lincoln delivered it in just a few minutes on November 19, 1863 to consecrate the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, four and a half months after the Battle of Gettysburg.
We can learn a lot from Lincoln’s speech 150 years ago and none more than the power of brevity.
The original and intended Gettysburg Address was delivered before Lincoln’s comments by former Harvard University President, and United States congressman Edward Everett. Everett’s 13,000 word, two-hour long speech has been long forgotten while Lincoln’s is studied worldwide to this day.
Upon reflection after the event Everett wrote Lincoln saying, “I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.”
In my training on The 7 Deadliest Sins of Leadership & Workplace Communication I speak to the dangers of a “lack of specificity” in our communication.
Yet, I also caution my audiences to take note that “more words do not necessarily lead to more specificity.”
Lincoln’s address 150 years ago is a great example of what I mean.
Another is comedian Jerry Seinfeld who has said he works for hours cutting a joke from eight words down to six because brevity is power.
And, one reason why I strive to keep these blog articles for you under 300 words.
In honor of the anniversary this article is 272 words!
’til next time communicate with brevity!
P.S. If you’d like help communicating to motivate your staff I encourage
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