Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Short and sweet

Last Friday I began my holiday baking (first up...rugelach!) while enjoying the annual broadcast of the Ig Nobel Prize Awards on NPR's Science Friday. These two activities signal to me the beginning of the Christmas season! The Igs (as they are known to their aficionados) are given every year by the Annals of Improbable Research, a magazine whose stated goal is to publish "research that makes people LAUGH then THINK." I always learn fun new facts, and get a few good laughs out of Black Friday's hour-long reprise. Last year I blogged about the ceremony's ingenious use of a young girl by the name of Miss Sweetie Poo who calls the speakers out when they wander "in the weeds."

This year I was struck by another element of the Igs that we could do well to incorporate into our thinking--their 24/7 Lectures. When we prepare speeches, comments, or meeting recaps for any kind of presentation, we could benefit from remembering the rules: "Each 24/7 Lecturer explains their topic twice: First, a complete, technical description in 24 seconds. Then, a clear summary that anyone can understand in 7 words" (italics mine).

It sure would take a bit of doing, but what if we set that goal for ourselves? What if we could boil down our main talking points to a succinct 24-second explanation? And then, provide a short, clear summary? I am sure such a thought exercise would clarify our thinking, maybe even direct us to what we can cut out of our presentations that is unnecessary or obfuscatory.

Succinct messaging takes time; well worth it.
7 words!