For quite a while, in various circumstances, I’ve felt that I need to speak for a longer period of time. I tend to say what I’m going to say, and then move on without a lot of repetition.
Some other people can use a lot more words to answer a question, and that may be a good thing. If I were to ask my pastor what 1+1 is, I suspect I’d get a 10 minute response but I’d also get a great story about the history of Arabic numerals!
For me this has been troublesome at times, such as when I was leading a middle school Bible study years ago, when I’d complete the lesson in 10 minutes instead of using the full hour. In that case, perhaps a bit more depth and repetition could have been a good thing, but in most cases I’m realizing that brevity can be a good thing.
Seth Godin, who I’ve mentioned on this blog a few times, is a great example of this. He’s mentioned before that the more time he is able to devote to polishing up a blog post, the shorter it gets. He doesn’t add more anecdotes and different ways of saying things, instead he works to refine his thoughts to express things as clearly and easily as possible.
Blaise Pascal, had similar thoughts, when he said “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.“
A final quote is attributed to President Woodrow Wilson, though the authenticity of it is in question.
A member of the Cabinet congratulated Wilson on introducing the vogue of short speeches and asked him about the time it took him to prepare his speeches. He said:
“It depends. If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half an hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now.”
Conciseness can be a good thing, and it comes naturally to me (for better or worse). I’m generally going to stop worrying about my inability to stretch out talks to fit a certain length, and just say what needs to be said while embracing the brevity.