The older I get, the harder it is to pay attention, especially in today's bite-sized, sound bite-dominated world.
Ask my colleagues. The slightest lull in a conversation and I'm off checking email. Or ask my wife. Any story that starts with, “Guess what happened today?” is usually met with, “Just jump to the chase.” Tell me what I need to know right now, right away, so I can do something about it (or as she might attest – ignore it until I absolutely have to do something about it).
How many times have you started to listen to a long voice message and thought, “Just give me the headlines,” or opened an e-mail and glazed over as the words go on and on? An entire generation of colleagues and clients is rising through the ranks thinking 140 characters or I'm moving on. TL;DR (too long; didn't read) is almost as pervasive today as LOL or OMG.
As our collective attention spans continue to shrink, and the abbreviated vernacular of Twitter (I tweet from @telltony), texting, and other social media become the communications norm, we as counselors need to move fast, be true, and absolutely be brief.
Most media outlets don't have the resources, the time, or the patience to listen to communications people like they used to. So does that mean our art of storytelling is dying like traditional print media? Not necessarily. But it does mean we need to understand and inspire conversation like Mamet or Maya Angelou and less like Herman Melville when speaking to and on behalf of clients. Short bursts, not long prose.
Need more proof? My editor loved my first blog entry—and then politely asked me to shorten the next one. Duly noted.
Tony Telloni, MD, Burson-Marsteller, and president, Proof Integrated Communications