Too Much Information

Posted: July 22, 2013 by Bill Cunningham in Culture, Marketing, People, Social Media

Bill Cunningham BioMark Twain EntrepreneurI didn’t have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote you a long one

– Mark Twain
Every morning I wake up to an inbox full of great knowledge and inspiration. 25, 50, 100 emails magically appear overnight to catch my attention. Yet, they don’t.

At the GCVA presentation committee, some entrepreneurs bring 60 slide Powerpoint decks to make sure they cover all the information.  Yet, they don’t.

As part of the baby boomer generation that invented Attention Deficit Disorder and called it multi-tasking, I agree with Shakespeare’s thought “Brevity is the soul of wit!”

To that end I recommend you think about how subtraction can increase clarity!

My business communications professor showed us how to write succinctly by crossing out throw-away words, phrases and even paragraphs. He simply advised: “If you deleted it and still got your message across, then leave it out.”

Dr. Bradley also disliked the “to be” verbs. Why waste a sentence with  “is, are, was, were” when you can create action and images in your reader’s mind?

He preached simple, yet elegant ways to improve communication.

Apple and Steve Jobs loved white space. Steve’s minimalist presentations awed us with just two words in 144 point type. He always succeeded in getting the right message to his raving fans and the media – no small feat! Their deliberate absence of clutter allowed the audience to focus on what’s important. It wowed us!

One of my must-read emails every morning is Seth Godin’s blog posts on marketing, tribes and respect. In three to six paragraphs, he says more than most 20 page white papers. I read them quickly, instantly get the message and feel great going into the day with his nuggets of wisdom. The titles of his posts grab your attention with their crisp, succinct, eye-catching flare. I suspect he spends 50% of his time writing the blog and the other 50% writing the headline –  probably a good ratio.

Emails could take a great lesson from Seth Godin – short, sweet and to the point will win the hearts of readers every time. A great headline will get them to open and read it – another challenge in today’s “drinking from the firehose” feel of most inboxes!

What about trying a non-email approach to communication? A real handwritten post card or letter might catch someone’s attention by catching them off guard. Sending one of these may just give you an advantage because of its uniqueness. Back in my days at Apple Computer, I dropped postcards of a Skyline Chili 3-way to people in Cupertino who took care of a customer problem, or helped me solve the “who handles this” challenge at Apple’s HQ. Seeing that postcard tacked to their cubicle wall always made me smile – I knew that I had their mindshare. After all, who else would send them a 3-way post card? 3 sentences and a 33 cent stamp did the trick!

Subtraction can be your most valuable asset to laser-focused communication.

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Read more information for other thought leaders in the entrepreneurial space at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s