Saying More With Less

by Stephen Mills on September 25, 2010


In today’s world of information overload, people move quickly from sound bite to sound bite.  To be successful with your message and to avoid be washed away in the sea of noise, you must connect quickly and convey effectively.  You must transmit something meaningful in the small window in which you have been granted the benefit of their attention.  This is true in face-to-face as well as electronic communication.  How many times, even when you are physically present with someone, are they distracted by some electronic device?  Failure to connect with someone and convey meaning to them quickly will often lead to failure.   Here are some tips:

  • Present the Big Idea First – Don’t ramble and slowly build up to the big idea or you are likely to lose your audience.  A much better tactic is to present the big idea right up front and then try to prove it with what follows.
  • The Eyes Are Most Important –  Humans are visual creatures and pictures are truly worth a thousand words.  Slides with text don’t work near as well as slides with pictures.  Think how much is conveyed in a cartoon picture with a short caption – for example.
  • Trim the Data Fat – We now routinely ignore most of the information that we are blasted with simply as a defense mechanism.  Make your message stand out with simple, concise, and clear content.
  • Tell a Short Story – Humans evolved telling stories.  Long stories may have worked in the past, but the key in today’s world is to make them short or people will tune out.  I recently read a book I really liked, but it started out with a long story. As valuable a lesson as the story contained, I am willing to bet the author lost a lot of people before they made it to the end of that initial story.
  • Show Confidence and Decisiveness – Displaying confidence and decisiveness make you more credible and will lead to a greater likelihood you will convince your audience.  Many times in my work career people have complained to me “I told them the same thing but they only believe it when they hear it from you.”  A forceful, confident, and decisive manner makes all the difference.
  • Aim For the Heart – The most rational person in the world cannot make a decision without their emotions.  This is a demonstrable scientific fact.  If you want someone to decide in your favor or buy what your selling, then appeal to their emotions first and their intellect second.

There is so much more that could be said on this topic but in the spirit of the message, I think this will do for now.

What do YOU think?  Leave a comment and join the conversation.


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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Sudan Gautam September 25, 2010 at 11:42 am

The message were too short but relevant. It was a well time invested before going to sleep. Thank you. I shall practice what you have been saying in your blog. Let’s see how far i can reach..
Sudan Gautam´s last blog post ..Dream on until your dream comes true


Stephen Mills September 26, 2010 at 5:29 pm

I Sudan, I know it was short but I thought that was a plus. People often appreciate short articles and I try to mix some in with my longer articles. Thank you for commenting.


Wally September 25, 2010 at 5:47 pm

You sound like you have everything under control. I would love to feel that way about what I am doing. I hope that I can take some of this great advice and change the way I am and make a little money in the process.


Stephen Mills September 26, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Hello Wally, it’s a lot easier to sound like things are under control than to actually have them under control, but things are going pretty good right now. Good Luck!


Sandra Lee September 26, 2010 at 1:53 am

This is a valuable and important reminder to me. I need to get better at trimming the fat. Thanks so much!
Sandra Lee´s last blog post ..Sunday reflection- like a flash of ligtening in the sky


Stephen Mills September 26, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Hello Sandra, some people like the fat but I think we have to realize that sometimes its better to go lean even if you don’t go as deep. Thanks for the comment.


Preeti @ Heart and Mind September 26, 2010 at 5:06 am


Some time saying less is more powerful. I loved the tips. I would add, be trustworthy, and practice what you preach. These both tips will say more to friends, family, blog readers or customers than anything written or spoken words would convey otherwise.
Preeti @ Heart and Mind´s last blog post ..Why learning from history is cool – Part II


Stephen Mills September 26, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Hi Preeti, being trustworthy is extremely important for getting a message across. I left it out of this short list of tips because it is more of a long-term strategy that develops over time. Thank you for stopping in to comment.


Sandy September 26, 2010 at 11:07 pm

Succinct and cogent. I would love to read more when you suggest “Aim for the heart”.

“…..The most rational person in the world cannot make a decision without their emotions. This is a demonstrable scientific fact……”

A loaded gun if there was one! Is this arguable? Can you direct me to places where I can study this…this is an interesting statement that I would have thought improbable.



Stephen Mills September 27, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Hello Sandy,

The idea that emotions are important to decision making is the result of work by Antonio Damasio. Here is a blurb about it from Wikipedia:

“Damasio’s most influential contribution to date is the demonstration that emotions play a critical role in high level cognition, an idea that ran counter to dominant 20th c. views in psychology, neuroscience and philosophy. He showed that emotions and their biological underpinnings are involved in decision-making (both positively and negatively, and often non-consciously); provide the scaffolding for the construction of social cognition; and are required for the self processes which undergird consciousness. The idea has inspired many systems-neuroscience experiments carried out in laboratories in the US and Europe, and has had a major impact in contemporary science and philosophy.”

I can’t remember where I first heard it but I have come across it many times. Patients who suffer brain damage that destroy their emotional abilities and yet retain high IQ’s and otherwise are cognitively normal are paralyzed by their reasoning ability. They go on and on trying to reason it out. It seems how you think you are going to feel as a result of your decision plays an important role in being able to actually make a decision at all.

If I remember it correctly things that are very clear cut, perhaps if you don’t give me your money I will blow your head off, can be made without needing emotions but those who have lost the ability to feel emotions have a very difficult time making every day decisions.


Sandy September 27, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Assuming this position (essentially right brain super imposing itself on the logical left side) would make explain certain behavioral patterns.

Charles Mackay (Extraordinary Delusions….), Malcom Gladwell (Blink) among others have documented this as well.

There are several books by authors in certain occupations (like trading) that I know of documenting the dominance of the left side brain and people living ordinary lives with such reasoning.

People who have either lost that ability to feel emotions or are able to control both sides effectively through NLP or via awareness of their cognitive positioning should be able to function significantly better than the rest of us in certain occupations.

And I just don’t see enough everyday evidence that people with pre-dominantly left sided reasoning are handicapped or restricted and therefore are construed to be leading less fulfilling lives than others.

I don’t have the background to authoritatively make the statements that I read here about the importance of letting emotion be an important cog of decision making. But that sounds as hokey to me as saying that organised religion is good for mankind.

As for speaking to the heart, yeah – when people are handicapped that they can’t respond with logic (like a child) I would think that is a handicap in itself.

Did I just piss off a few people here?…We’ll what the emotional response is…..


Stephen Mills September 28, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Sandy, I’m not sure how to read this response.

First of all I don’t think anyone ever claimed that people with left-side predominance are handicapped in decision making. I have no idea where you got that. It so happens that the left prefontal cortex is known to be important in modulating emotion.

I will just say to your “hokey” comment that the importance of emotion in decision making is seems to be well established and a well accepted position by experts in the field. Maybe you could argue with the brain damaged patients (to the areas involved in emotion) who have such a difficult time making decisions that their sitution is “hokey”.

If you do not dispute the science but the aim for the emotion part of my article, well to my mind that simply follows. If someone feels good about a decision they are more likely to make it. I don’t think that is exactly controversial. If you want to call that “hokey” then fine, we will simply disagree.


Nea | Self Improvement Saga September 27, 2010 at 6:15 pm

This is a great topic. All of the tips you listed here are great, but a couple of things stood out to me.

First, I know that I have a short attention span. If I’m talking to someone who doesn’t get to the point right away, they’ve lost me. That’s sad but true.

The other thing that stands out is that you talk about speaking to the heart. This is so unbelievably important. People truly do respond based on emotion. If your words resonate with them, they’ll listen closely.
Nea | Self Improvement Saga´s last blog post ..Inspirational Words- Think Big


Stephen Mills September 28, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Hi Nea, and thank you for commenting. If you don’t make your message stand out against the background competition quickly, you are likely to loose people. If you have someone’s attention and can explain that the argument is a long one, and it requires building of one point on another, AND they trust you, you may then be able to stretch it out. It all depends upon the situation.


Zeenat{Positive Provocations} September 28, 2010 at 9:09 pm

HI Stephen,
What an amazing message! I love how short and sweet you kept this post..and conveyed so much too 🙂 I got to learn how to do that 😉 I can be the rambling type… 😉
But all the tips here, are so awesome …especially the last one. Works every time…the only change though, is a heart to heart 🙂 Works better 🙂
Much love,
Zeenat{Positive Provocations}´s last blog post ..A Celebration- An Announcement &amp 33 Spiritual Laws of Happiness


Stephen Mills September 30, 2010 at 6:13 am

Hi Zeenat, thanks so much for stopping by and offering those encouraging words 🙂


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