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Brief: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less [Kindle Edition]

Joseph McCormack
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Get heard by being clear and concise

The only way to survive in business today is to be a leancommunicator. Busy executives expect you to respect and managetheir time more effectively than ever. You need to do thegroundwork to make your message tight and to the point. The averageprofessional receives 304 emails per week and checks theirsmartphones 36 times an hour and 38 hours a week. This inattentionhas spread to every part of life. The average attention span hasshrunk 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. Hisproven B.R.I.E.F. approach, which stands for Background, Relevance,Information, Ending, and Follow up, helps simplify and clarifycomplex communication. BRIEF will help yousummarize lengthy information, tell a short story, harness thepower of infographics and videos, and turn monologue presentationsinto controlled conversations.

  • Details the B.R.I.E.F. approach to distilling your message intoa brief presentation
  • Written by the founder and CEO of Sheffield Marketing Partners,which specializes in message and narrative development, who is alsoa recognized expert in Narrative Mapping, a technique that helpsclients achieve a clearer and more concise message
Long story short: BRIEF will help you gain themuscle you need to eliminate wasteful words and stand out from therest. Be better. Be brief.

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Review

I get several hundred emails per day. I wish people would just ask for what they want in the first sentence. I don′t need to know their whole life history to make a decision. Getting people to be brief would save everyone a lot of time.
Guy Kawasaki, author, publisher and entrepreneur

You could write a book about trying to get people to pay closer attention and stop getting distracted and interrupted, or you could help people be succinct. Joe has chosen the better path.
John Challenger, CEO Challenger, Gray and Christmas

"We are entering an age of infobesity. Brief is your new weapon to cut through the clutter and stand out."
Sam Horn, author of POP! and Eyebrow Test

As a military leader, telling a story that′s clear and concise helped me to thrive in a sometimes hostile media environment overseas. I m convinced that following Joe s counsel and insights has made me a more effective and efficient leader.
Lieutenant General William B. Caldwell, IV (ret.)

Brevity requires discipline, confidence, and preparation, but you will stand out, and your people, including potential clients, will love you for it. Use McCormack s practical advice –– the results will astound you!
Marshall Goldsmith author of the New York Times and global bestseller What Got You Here Won t Get You There.

From the Inside Flap

Most day–to–day communications are unfocused and unclear. That s an inexcusable waste of everyone s time and resources. Brief isn t a nicety, it s a necessity. In a world where we are inundated with information and highly inattentive, we have very small windows of time to make an impact with no margin for error. The problem is most people don t have the know–how or verbal discipline to do the upfront groundwork and get to the point. As a result, they waste precious opportunities with decision–makers, and get too comfortable and verbally sloppy with co–workers and long–time clients. Brief is a step–by–step approach to getting to the point quickly and ensuring that your message is delivered with maximum impact.

With real–world case studies and illustrative examples of messaging successes and failures author and senior marketing executive Joseph McCormack provides an easy–to–follow framework for communicating more effectively and efficiently. McCormack breaks down how to become a master of high–impact brevity with his four proven approaches:

  • Map It BRIEF Maps to condense and trim volumes of information
  • Tell It Narrative storytelling to explain in a way that s clear, concise, and compelling
  • Talk It TALC Tracks that turn monologues into controlled conversations
  • Show It Visuals that attract attention and capture imagination

Brief walks you through the more intense and complex process of distilling all of your information into the most effective message possible, regardless of length. You ll learn to trim your ideas for your intended audience and to communicate in the most appropriate timeframe for each situation. As attention spans get shorter and decision–makers have less time to absorb your ideas and presentations, it is imperative that you craft your message carefully, the first time, and tailor it specifically to your target.

Written for business executives, sales and marketing professionals, entrepreneurs, and anyone who aspires to be a lean communicator, Brief: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less provides the tools you ll need to be tight and get it right.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 11638 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (23 Jan. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00F2JFUZE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #41,265 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
By Robert Morris TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
I am among the staunch advocates of the Lean Six Sigma philosophy and its potentialities in terms of doing more work and doing it much better in less time and at a lower cost. What we have in this volume is what Joseph McCormack has learned about how to unleash the power of brevity so that what you say and what you do have much greater impact. In essence, he is convinced that - in countless situations, but certainly not all -- less is more.
Years ago, he and his firm were retained to develop an original curriculum for U.S. Special Operations Command to improve the quality of communications. The result was a step-by-step approach to get to the point quickly.

How effective was it? After a few days, McCormack observed an immediate improvement: Participants "were able to leverage storytelling skills and BRIEF techniques to be clear and compelling when explaining complex missions. They delivered complicated information efficiently and effectively, with clearer context and more compelling explanations. They used fewer PowerPoint presentations. As a result, the leaders fostered better and more engaging conversations."

McCormack makes skillful use of several reader-friendly devices that include "BRIEF Bits" (memorable insights on how to more BRIEF, each accompanied by a military figure to emphasize the importance of discipline), "BRIEF Basics" (various critical techniques that are essential to mastering Lean brevity), "Executive Attention" (vignettes about two executives and their interaction with others' inability to be BRIEF), and "Long Story Short" (essential points at the beginning and conclusion of all chapters, 1-20). These device s will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key material later.
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5.0 out of 5 stars K.I.S.S. in brief 24 Sept. 2014
By Hande Z TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
The Twitter generation has no patience to read `War and Peace'. In short, people have shorter time span for long memos, long speeches, long meetings etc. Hold on, there are different matters that must not be confused for each other. Impatience and attention deficit disorder are problems that require solutions. In this regard, readers might find Michael Harris' book, 'The End of Absence', a useful follow-up to this one by McCormack. Brevity in our action and work is not the true solution here. Brevity is a virtue promoted by McCormack in this book because being brief makes us more effective people at work. It helps us more socially adept because brevity promotes clarity.

After addressing (briefly) the importance and usefulness of being brief, McCormack provides some useful methods that help create a discipline for brevity. He explains that there is no need to panic over the 140-character squeeze imposed by Twitter because 'the ideal level of engagement is even lower'. Describing the sins of long and useless (tautology?) meetings, McCormack suggests ways to overcome this time-consuming activity that will help the reader acquire a decisiveness in knowing when and where to be brief.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  66 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brief is best, as less is more 31 Mar. 2014
By Dwight G. Duncan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As a lawyer, I've often had to read and write briefs. All too often, the briefs in cases are long and tedious. No wonder that courts set word limits on filings. We should keep our written submissions to a minimum, and so enhance credibility. After all, that's why they're called briefs. Joseph McCormack's book Brief makes this point about all communication. Whether it's business presentations, meetings, homilies, e-mails or tweets, less is often more. Captive audiences tend to be abused, after all. It's always good to leave audiences wanting more rather than less. As Samuel Johnson wrote of Milton's Paradise Lost, "None every wished it longer than it is." From his experience in the field of marketing communications, McCormack makes a compelling case for keeping it short and to the point. He urges us to meeting an increasingly ADD (attention-deficit disorder) culture with an ADD approach of Awareness, Discipline and Decisiveness: awareness of the need to be brief in our information-inundated world, discipline to be clear and concise, and decisiveness to know when and where to be brief. Long story short is to keep the long story short. Or, as one of my colleagues says about commencement addresses, follow the five B's: Be brief, baby, be brief. Thank you, Mr. McCormack!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impact - Could Change the Culture of an Organization 13 Feb. 2014
By RoyGBiv - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I read it on a cross country flight; could not put it down - easy to read yet so much substance.

McCormack combines tangible lessons on how to practically apply his principles with entertaining stories and witty examples.

His approach to communication is intuitive but rarely followed. He clearly lays out the why then the how of clear and efficient communication.

This is about getting more done at work and in life by being disciplined with communication. Just consider the time wasted by our long winded bosses!

To be clear, its not about speaking in 140 characters or less. To quote the book, "To be brief doesn't just mean being concise. Your responsibility to is convey a message well enough to cause a person to act on it." And he tells you how.

After I read it, I felt compelled to practice it for the betterment of those around me.

Immensely helpful, extremely practical, essential.

Read it today, better yet, buy it for your boss.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long Story Short ... You Need This Book 2 Feb. 2014
By MICHELLE O'HAGAN - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
In his book, BRIEF, Joe McCormack makes the case that the ability to be brief begins with your ability to respect your audience enough to do some serious preparation. Whether it is a dinner for two or a business presentation for hundreds, it is your responsibility to know what your audience needs and give it to them in short order.

And if you won’t do it out of the goodness of your heart, McCormack also points out that *not* being brief will cost you money, promotions, raises and the respect of friends and colleagues.

Organized in punchy chapters (some just two pages long) and peppered with sidebars and illustrations, BRIEF provides multiple entry/exit points for quick bursts of useful information.

Throughout BRIEF, McCormack provides examples of entrepreneurs, business executives and military personnel who have embraced his methodology of narrative mapping and deployed it throughout their organizations with great success. This is the beauty of BRIEF; it is scalable. No matter who you are or what you do, you’ll find something valuable here that will change the way you interact with--and are perceived by--everyone you know.

If you’re already a lean communicator, do the rest of us a favor and send BRIEF to someone who isn’t.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Be brief with Brief 28 Oct. 2014
By Peter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Joseph (Joe) McCormack is on a mission to help organizations master the art of the short story.
If you don't use the GTD (Getting Things Done) method chances are you're tired at the end of the day of all the interruptions of e-mails, phone calls, colleagues passing by with a question, and lots of other distractions. It takes up to 28 minutes to get back from where you left before you were interrupted.
To start with, e-mails are concise and no longer than five lines, PowerPoint presentations are no longer then ten slides, and difficult ideas are translated into a simple story.
Make your point before your audience gets distracted. I've tried to tweet my information in sentences of 140 characters.
The seven Cs, short for capital sins, are the reasons for us not to be brief. The seven Cs are; cowardice, confidence, callousness, comfort, confusion, complication and carelessness. Therefore master brevity with: "Map it, tell it, talk it, and show it".
A compelling story starts with a strong headline, a lead paragraph with a logical sequence of events, a personal touch and a powerful conclusion. Keep it short and to the point and about real life events.
With the TALC ( pronounce as TLC, Talk, Actively Listen, and Converse) method you can enter and direct any conversation.
Visuals are brief, but hard to think up and to come by, photos from the internet, or drawings made by hand and presented in a fast paced video do more than a thousand words or a keynote.
Presentations like a TED Talk are limited to 18 minutes and they dictate strict presenter guidelines. How to effectively communicate in front of a desperate, distracted audience? Limit yourself to a page or even half a page, and put the recommendation in the first paragraphs with background details. Start with "Why?", defining the problem, and eliminate confusion. Know your audience about their background and experience. Pitch in a few words like a bumper sticker, and be convincing and concise.
Use as few words as possible, be self aware to what you say during small talk by pausing and reevaluating, and gain confidence to be brief through preparation and practice.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to unleash the power of brevity so that what you say and what you do have much greater impact 25 Mar. 2014
By Robert Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I am among the staunch advocates of the Lean Six Sigma philosophy and its potentialities in terms of doing more work and doing it much better in less time and at a lower cost. What we have in this volume is what Joseph McCormack has learned about how to unleash the power of brevity so that what you say and what you do have much greater impact. In essence, he is convinced that - in countless situations, but certainly not all -- less is more. Years ago, he and his firm were retained to develop an original curriculum for U.S. Special Operations Command to improve the quality of communications. The result was a step-by-step approach to get to the point quickly.

How effective was it? After a few days, McCormack observed significant improvement: Participants "were able to leverage storytelling skills and BRIEF techniques to be clear and compelling when explaining complex missions. They delivered complicated information efficiently and effectively, with clearer context and more compelling explanations. They used fewer PowerPoint presentations. As a result, the leaders fostered better and more engaging conversations."

McCormack makes skillful use of several reader-friendly devices that include "BRIEF Bits" (memorable insights on how to be more BRIEF, each accompanied by a military figure to emphasize the importance of discipline), "BRIEF Basics" (various critical techniques that are essential to mastering Lean brevity), "Executive Attention" (vignettes about two executives and their interaction with others' inability to be BRIEF), and "Long Story Short" (essential points at the beginning and conclusion of all chapters, 1-20). These devices will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key material later.

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of McCormack's coverage.

o Four Forces of Overcapacity (Pages 15-22)
o The New Reality: There's No Time for a Slow Buildup (22-24)
o The Seven Capital Sins of Verbosity (27-33)
o The Exercise of Brevity (43-44)
o BRIEF Maps: A Practical Tool for Delivering Brevity (51-52)
o Where's the Communication Disconnect? When a Story Is Missing (62-63)
o The Birth of Narrative Mapping: A Way to Organize and Deliver Your Story (64-65)
o Think About Your Audience: Journalism 2.0 and the Elements of a Narrative
o TALC [Talk, Active Listening, Converse] Tracks -- A Structure for Balance and Brevity (84-86)
o The Age of YouTube and Business (99-100)
o Mini-Case Study: W.W. Granger (105-110)
o The Discipline of Brevity (134-138)
o Cut to the Customer's Chase (149-151)
o Walk the Walk; Talk the Talk (168-171)
o Let the Brilliance Shine Through (184-186)
o The "Say-Do" Ratio (197-199)
o Being Brief: Summary and Action Plan (207-217)

Over the years, I have encountered dozens of examples of the power of brevity, an attribute that is more valuable (and more rare) today than ever before. George Bernard Shaw once apologized in a letter for its length because he had not had enough time to write a shorter one. On another occasion, someone informed him, "I walked by your house the other day." Shaw replied, "Thank you." A woman once approached Ben Hogan and offered him a ten-dollar bill, explaining that she had bet someone $20 that she could get him to say three words and felt obliged to share half with him. He said, "You lose." There is also a story about a venture capitalist who was approached (cornered) at a party by an eager young entrepreneur who insisted that all he needed was "only" $5-million to finance a great idea that would earn at least twenty times that. "Do you have a business card?" The young man offered one. "Please explain your great idea on the back of it." The young man insisted that that would be impossible. "Then I'm sorry but there really isn't anything for us to discuss."

This is indeed a time when "being brief is desperately needed and rarely delivered. When we fail to be clear and concise, the consequences can be brutal: wasted time, money, and resources; decisions made in confusion; worthy ideas rejected; people sent off in wrong directions; [so-called] done deals that always seem to stall." I congratulate Joseph McCormack on the wealth of information, insights, and counsel he provides in this lively and eloquent volume. Of course, I cannot resist the temptation to suggest that he really didn't need 217 pages but who's counting?
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