My son Nathan recently came across an interesting Harvard Business Review blog (HBR Network). It contained an article by a David Silverman, a business writing professor, decrying the fact that we’ve lost the art of clarity and replaced it with the rubble of verbosity.
The Gettysburg Address has 300 words. Macbeth has 18,000 words. Apple’s iTunes Terms and Conditions has over 20,000 words. And the average graduate thesis is now over 30,000 words.
From junior high through college, the best grades are often reserved for the longest papers with the biggest words. Unfortunately, that spills over to our day-to-day communication. From business reports to legal documents, most everything is far longer than it needs to be.
As an adjunct professor in various doctoral programs I see it in the papers I grade. As an author I see in the “fluff chapters” that most books seem to have in order to reach the required page count. As a preacher, I would guess that many in my congregation see it in the length of my sermons.
It’s a good reminder that complete doesn’t necessarily mean lengthy – and communication is ultimately about clarity – or it isn’t communication.
Here’s a link to the article if you’d like to read it: http://tinyurl.com/88us2mv