I literally just put down my iPad, from which I read the book, Microstyle: the Art of Writing Little by Christopher Johnson. I read many books on communication, and it has been a long time since I read anything really new about how we get our ideas across, what resonates with people overall and how we can ensure our message is not only remembered but shared.
Microstyle is entertaining and enlightening. The opening line to the introduction is intriguing: “This is the age of the Incredible Shrinking Message.” Yes. He goes on to explain how we go to this point of “miniature messages” (and you can’t blame it all on Twitter, though it may have speeded up the process a bit).
I don’t want to spoil the book for you (because I am recommending you read it), but here are some nuggets that caught my eye:
- “Micromessages often feature the formal traits of poetry: rhyme, alliteration, assonance, structural parallelism.”
- “So, how do you pack a lot of meaning into a little message? You don’t. . . A message isn’t a treasure chest full of meaning. It’s more like a key that opens doors.”
- “Clarity means finding the right level of detail for the circumstances.”
- “The main function of a brand name…is to add conceptual and emotional depth to people’s ideas about a product, company, or service.”
- “Baldly descriptive names are like a trip to the grocery store: they’re short, and you don’t see anything very interesting along the way. Suggestive names, on the other hand, lead you through exciting mental territory…”
- “We don’t live ideas, we live situations. So, insert your reader into a situation.”
- “What makes a micromessage successful is often the same thing that makes a comment stand out in a conversation: unusual perspicacity or wit.”
- “Voice is what the recipient of your message infers about you solely from your communicative choices.”
These statements are taken entirely out of context. This is another reason to pick up the book. But, you get a flavor for what Johnson seems to be saying: Challenge “Big Style” and make your own style. It will determine much about you.