Be Brief

Austin Bales
2 min readJul 10, 2021

Here’s something I learned in these past years at Facebook. Maybe it’s something that’ll help you too.

I used to write long (very long) emails. A few years ago, Luke told me, “You need to be more brief and to the point.” I’d always thought of myself as articulate, so that piece of feedback hit me hard.

But Luke was right! My emails were way longer than other folks’ I respected. I wanted people to know how much I’d thought about a topic and that my point of view was well-considered. But, “being brief” makes it much easier for people to take in your message, honors them by taking less of their time, and creates space for more voices and dialogue.

My coach said that this was an important opportunity. “Lead with the executive summary. Take a position.” I keep these mottos in mind when writing or speaking since then, and I’m confident they’ve made me more effective:

  1. Have confidence that people will understand and value what you’re saying.
  2. Lead with the executive summary. What are the most important points for people to hear? Share just that and any absolutely essential context.
  3. Assume there will be follow-up questions. When people doubt your points or want more, they’ll ask you for more! Being brief encourages dialog, and it creates less work from the people you’re communicating with. Your audience shouldn’t have to grade a term-paper to be bought into your plan.

Of all of these , Confidence is probably the most important. Just be confident people want to understand you.

Thanks to Luke Woods and Tommy Giglio for their perspectives and edits and to Thuy Sindell her coaching and advice.