The Art of the Edit

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I am in the middle of an editing project. Editing can be hard… especially for leaders… especially if we are editing our own work. After all, we wouldn’t have included the information in the first place if it wasn’t important, right? We want to make sure people understand every detail of what we are trying to convey, and once we craft the message a certain way, it is hard to imagine anything less achieving our goal. If you find yourself nodding your head at that last sentence, this blog is for you.

Less is more.

Yes, your message is important. Yes, you may have spent months considering every possible option to develop a plan outlining the best path forward. That’s what leaders do. And in most cases, your people — be they employees, volunteers, board members, the general public — want to know what time it is, not how you built the watch. You need to have that information. They do not.

Edited information generates more excitement and buy-in than reams of details.

Think about it…

  • Do you think it is more likely people will read a 2-inch thick packet of information or a two-page document? They may ask questions about something in that 2-inch packet, and since you put it together, you will have no problem answering their question. But if they don’t read the information because it looks too intimidating, or like it will take too much time to sort through, you — and your message — have lost. Go with the 2 pages.
  • Do you think it is more likely that your staff will remember and get excited about your strategic goals if they are buried in a 47-page document, or if they are boiled down to 3 or 4 key themes? If they can’t remember what your strategic goals are, how in the world are your people going to make decisions that help move your organization toward accomplishing them? Focus, my friend, focus.

Editing takes time. It is hard work. As Pascal noted, “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” True. And it is worth the effort… every time… not only for those who are the intended recipients of your message, but for you as a leader as well. The more you can distill your message down to it’s core essence, the more powerful it becomes.

Less really is more. If you want to maximize your impact as a leader, take the time to master the art of the edit.

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