One day Oscar Wilde wondered how his new book was selling. So he telegraphed his London publisher a single character: “?”
The publisher cabled back: “!”
Most of us agree that in communication, shorter is generally better.
The problem is, a lot of us in internal comms enjoy writing. And that passion sometimes means that our writing is longer than necessary.
One useful expression you should be aware of is tl;dr. In case you don’t know, it means “too long, didn’t read”.
For years, people on online forums have replied ‘tl;dr’ to insult people who write lengthy posts. But in the last few months tl;dr has taken on a life of its own – evolving from a snarky dig into a sweeping campaign for brevity.
There’s a tl;dr browser plugin that displays crowdsourced summaries of stuff you see online. And more articles are now including a ‘tl;dr’ section at the end – summing up the action for the benefit of busy readers.
The next time you have trouble getting colleagues to keep their internal communications brief, tl;dr is a great barb to jab them with.
tl;dr – write less.