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Times, standards, and expectations all change. As we near July Fourth, let’s use a Founding Father to illustrate. Here’s a Thomas Jefferson quote someone tweeted several weeks ago:

  • “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do” – Thomas Jefferson

Great quote, wonderful language, very true statement.

But way too long. If Jefferson were true to his words and writing for business today, he’d need to cut it by nearly 30 percent:

  • “The most valuable talent is never using two words when one works.” –”Edited” Thomas Jefferson

And on Twitter, even more editing and a twist would be expected:

  • “Most valued talent? Not using 140 char if 100 work.” –Thomas Jefferson Updated – 51 characters

Do you get the meaning from each version? Yes.

Is the Twitter version as elegant as Jefferson’s original? Absolutely not.

The key is understanding the setting, your audience, and their expectations to make sure you are using exactly the right number of words to get your point across.


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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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