Conciseness Is Hard Work Just as most people are unmotivated to read wordy documents, most are unmotivated to listen to wordy speakers. Effective communicators work to eliminate “rambling” in both their written and spoken words. Abraham Lincoln expressed the relationship between conciseness and hard work with his reply to the question, “How long does it take you to prepare a speech?” “Two weeks for a 20-minute speech,” he replied. “One week for a 40-minute speech; and I can give a rambling, two-hour talk right now.” Rambling takes little thought and effort; conciseness takes a great deal of both.
For a 24-hour period, think about conciseness violations in spoken words. Consider violations in five areas you studied in this chapter: (a) fillers, (b) long lead-ins, (c) redundancies, (d) compound prepositions, and (e) empty words. Identify the source of the violation using descriptors such as friend, family member, coworker, boss, instructor, actor in TV sitcom, interviewer or interviewee on a radio or TV talk show, and so forth. Include the communication medium for each example (telephone, conversation, radio, television, etc.). Be prepared to share the results of this activity during a class discussion.