Book Review: BRIEF by Joseph McCormack

Title: BRIEF – make a bigger impact by saying less
Author: Joseph McCormack

Year: 2014
Publisher: Wiley
Pages: 217
Topics Covered: Communication

It’s intimidating writing a book review on a book called ‘BRIEF’ but let me try to be as brief as possible. One of the most valuable skills any businessperson can have is the ability to clearly and succinctly articulate a message or idea in the most simplistic way possible. There is a huge difference between talking to someone like their stupid and talking to someone in the best way possible that respects their time and caters to what they want. Brevity is a lost art for most and plagues business meetings and email across the country. Joseph McCormack strongly argues that a master of brevity says less and gets more done. ‘BRIEF – make a bigger impact by saying less’ is a communications manual that you need to read to learn a very important skill that will not only help you execute your projects more effectively but will help you accelerate in your career.

BRIEF by Joseph McCormack

What I Learned in ‘BRIEF’

How many times have you been in a meeting with your boss or presented to executives and seen them glancing at their phones, watching their clocks or tapping their pencils? It literally feels like 2 minutes before you start seeing their attention evaporate and their minds wander. Joseph has a blueprint of how you can keep your audience focused using the following 4 approaches:

  1. Map It – BRIEF Maps are used to condense and trim volumes of info
  2. Tell It – Narrative storytelling is used to explain in a way that’s clear, concise, and compelling
  3. Show It – Visuals attract attention and capture imagination
  4. Talk It – TALC Tracks turn monologues into controlled conversations (TALC stands for Talk, Actively Listen, Converse)

Do you know why it’s so hard for you and others to be brief? It’s because of seven capital sins that Joseph outlines and covers in-depth:

  1. Cowardice
  2. Confidence
  3. Callousness
  4. Comfort
  5. Confusion
  6. Complication
  7. Carelessness

This is just a a brief taste of what you will learn in this book. Joseph McCormack is a master in communication and he has so much valuable wisdom and knowledge to share.

Why You Should Read This Book

Learning how to be brief takes a lot of work, training and discipline. You need this book if you want to learn how to communicate more effectively in the workplace. Don’t be the one in the office that is known for writing lengthy convoluted emails or for speaking in circles without ever getting to the point. Allow Joseph McCormack to teach you the fundamentals and secrets of brevity. This book will help you construct and deliver clear messages to your audience.

Favourite Quotes

“The modern, multitasking mind is a barrier – and brevity is the key to entry” – pg. 9

“Be disciplined, respectful, and well prepared, and your clients will thank you.” – pg. 35

“Buyers and sellers will benefit from shorter pitches that are on target.” – pg. 143


Final Thoughts

The topic of brevity drew me to this book because the more I learn about great leaders, the more I keep seeing the common thread of simplicity interwoven in everything they tried to create. Exceptional brands and leaders know how to keep messages simple and clear. Everyone seems to have no time, especially your boss and executive management. Time is money so when you speak, make sure you deliver your message clearly and concisely or it will cost you.

Full-Disclosure: A copy of this book was graciously provided to me by Wiley. They have not paid me for this post and everything I have written are my true feelings and opinions about it.

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