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Brief: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less Hardcover – February 10, 2014

4.2 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


I get several hundred emails per day. I wish people would just ask for what they want in the first sentence. I don't need to know their whole life history to make a decision. Getting people to be brief would save everyone a lot of time.
— Guy Kawasaki, author, publisher and entrepreneur

You could write a book about trying to get people to pay closer attention and stop getting distracted and interrupted, or you could help people be succinct. Joe has chosen the better path.
— John Challenger, CEO Challenger, Gray and Christmas

"We are entering an age of infobesity. Brief is your new weapon to cut through the clutter and stand out."
— Sam Horn, author of POP! and Eyebrow Test

As a military leader, telling a story that's clear and concise helped me to thrive in a sometimes hostile media environment overseas. I’m convinced that following Joe’s counsel and insights has made me a more effective and efficient leader.
— Lieutenant General William B. Caldwell, IV (ret.)

Brevity requires discipline, confidence, and preparation, but you will stand out, and your people, including potential clients, will love you for it. Use McCormack’s practical advice -- the results will astound you!
— Marshall Goldsmith author of the New York Times and global bestseller What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.

From the Inside Flap

Most day-to-day communications are unfocused and unclear. That’s an inexcusable waste of everyone’s time and resources. Brief isn’t a nicety, it’s a necessity. In a world where we are inundated with information and highly inattentive, we have very small windows of time to make an impact with no margin for error. The problem is most people don’t have the know-how or verbal discipline to do the upfront groundwork and get to the point. As a result, they waste precious opportunities with decision-makers, and get too “comfortable” and verbally sloppy with co-workers and long-time clients. Brief is a step-by-step approach to getting to the point quickly and ensuring that your message is delivered with maximum impact.

With real-world case studies and illustrative examples of messaging successes – and failures – author and senior marketing executive Joseph McCormack provides an easy-to-follow framework for communicating more effectively and efficiently. McCormack breaks down how to become a master of high-impact brevity with his four proven approaches:

  • Map It – BRIEF Maps to condense and trim volumes of information
  • Tell It – Narrative storytelling to explain in a way that’s clear, concise, and compelling
  • Talk It – TALC Tracks that turn monologues into controlled conversations
  • Show It – Visuals that attract attention and capture imagination

Brief walks you through the more intense and complex process of distilling all of your information into the most effective message possible, regardless of length. You’ll learn to trim your ideas for your intended audience and to communicate in the most appropriate timeframe for each situation. As attention spans get shorter and decision-makers have less time to absorb your ideas and presentations, it is imperative that you craft your message carefully, the first time, and tailor it specifically to your target.

Written for business executives, sales and marketing professionals, entrepreneurs, and anyone who aspires to be a lean communicator, Brief: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less provides the tools you’ll need to be tight and get it right.


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (February 10, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118704967
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118704967
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As a lawyer, I've often had to read and write briefs. All too often, the briefs in cases are long and tedious. No wonder that courts set word limits on filings. We should keep our written submissions to a minimum, and so enhance credibility. After all, that's why they're called briefs. Joseph McCormack's book Brief makes this point about all communication. Whether it's business presentations, meetings, homilies, e-mails or tweets, less is often more. Captive audiences tend to be abused, after all. It's always good to leave audiences wanting more rather than less. As Samuel Johnson wrote of Milton's Paradise Lost, "None every wished it longer than it is." From his experience in the field of marketing communications, McCormack makes a compelling case for keeping it short and to the point. He urges us to meeting an increasingly ADD (attention-deficit disorder) culture with an ADD approach of Awareness, Discipline and Decisiveness: awareness of the need to be brief in our information-inundated world, discipline to be clear and concise, and decisiveness to know when and where to be brief. Long story short is to keep the long story short. Or, as one of my colleagues says about commencement addresses, follow the five B's: Be brief, baby, be brief. Thank you, Mr. McCormack!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read it on a cross country flight; could not put it down - easy to read yet so much substance.

McCormack combines tangible lessons on how to practically apply his principles with entertaining stories and witty examples.

His approach to communication is intuitive but rarely followed. He clearly lays out the why then the how of clear and efficient communication.

This is about getting more done at work and in life by being disciplined with communication. Just consider the time wasted by our long winded bosses!

To be clear, its not about speaking in 140 characters or less. To quote the book, "To be brief doesn't just mean being concise. Your responsibility to is convey a message well enough to cause a person to act on it." And he tells you how.

After I read it, I felt compelled to practice it for the betterment of those around me.

Immensely helpful, extremely practical, essential.

Read it today, better yet, buy it for your boss.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In his book, BRIEF, Joe McCormack makes the case that the ability to be brief begins with your ability to respect your audience enough to do some serious preparation. Whether it is a dinner for two or a business presentation for hundreds, it is your responsibility to know what your audience needs and give it to them in short order.

And if you won’t do it out of the goodness of your heart, McCormack also points out that *not* being brief will cost you money, promotions, raises and the respect of friends and colleagues.

Organized in punchy chapters (some just two pages long) and peppered with sidebars and illustrations, BRIEF provides multiple entry/exit points for quick bursts of useful information.

Throughout BRIEF, McCormack provides examples of entrepreneurs, business executives and military personnel who have embraced his methodology of narrative mapping and deployed it throughout their organizations with great success. This is the beauty of BRIEF; it is scalable. No matter who you are or what you do, you’ll find something valuable here that will change the way you interact with--and are perceived by--everyone you know.

If you’re already a lean communicator, do the rest of us a favor and send BRIEF to someone who isn’t.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Joseph (Joe) McCormack is on a mission to help organizations master the art of the short story.
If you don't use the GTD (Getting Things Done) method chances are you're tired at the end of the day of all the interruptions of e-mails, phone calls, colleagues passing by with a question, and lots of other distractions. It takes up to 28 minutes to get back from where you left before you were interrupted.
To start with, e-mails are concise and no longer than five lines, PowerPoint presentations are no longer then ten slides, and difficult ideas are translated into a simple story.
Make your point before your audience gets distracted. I've tried to tweet my information in sentences of 140 characters.
The seven Cs, short for capital sins, are the reasons for us not to be brief. The seven Cs are; cowardice, confidence, callousness, comfort, confusion, complication and carelessness. Therefore master brevity with: "Map it, tell it, talk it, and show it".
A compelling story starts with a strong headline, a lead paragraph with a logical sequence of events, a personal touch and a powerful conclusion. Keep it short and to the point and about real life events.
With the TALC ( pronounce as TLC, Talk, Actively Listen, and Converse) method you can enter and direct any conversation.
Visuals are brief, but hard to think up and to come by, photos from the internet, or drawings made by hand and presented in a fast paced video do more than a thousand words or a keynote.
Presentations like a TED Talk are limited to 18 minutes and they dictate strict presenter guidelines. How to effectively communicate in front of a desperate, distracted audience?
Read more ›
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