How Research-Driven Organizations Become Thought Leaders

Your 400-Word Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It

Here’s one of the smartest pieces of communications advice I’ve ever heard:

If you’re given 30 minutes to talk, also prepare for five.

If you’re not the first person on the schedule, you’ll often end up with far less time than promised. So what if the speakers before you were longwinded egomaniacs? That’s life. What’s your message?

I’ve been thinking about this advice after one of my clients published a 400-word opinion piece in Axios this week.

Axios told Todd to aim for 300 words, with a limit of 400. Almost everything they do comes in under 400. Their branding and business model depends on it.

I think the piece reads great. And Todd left out nothing of importance.

I’m not bragging. I’m in shock.

I’m asking myself: how many 800-, 1200-, even 2,000-word pieces have I written, edited or published over my career — pieces I swore couldn’t lose another word?

Four hundred words is a great length for a panel opener, or an opening statement at a public hearing.

A video script of 400 words might even be too long. That video would run 3:20. That’s an eternity for most video.

What if you were the researcher who could explain your findings and their impact in 400 words?

Your solution or insight in 400 words?

And you were known for doing that?

What if brevity were your communications shop’s calling card?

It’s great practice. And even better positioning.

The space is wide open.