Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address Is a Masterpiece in Effective Communication. Here’s Why
Throughout life, many individuals will come and go with very few impacting future generations. Contrarily, there are individuals such as Albert Einstein, Ulysses S. Grant, John D. Rockefeller Sr., and Abraham Lincoln who have a cemented place in history, which allows them to continually be passed on to the next generation.
Speaking of the latter, President Lincoln on November 19, 1863, was scheduled to deliver the Gettysburg Address. As it’s widely known, the battle at Gettysburg was one of the bloodiest and costliest battles in U.S. history.
There was a lot on the line that day for President Lincoln, especially from a leadership standpoint. Ironically, President Lincoln’s speech wasn’t the main attraction that day.
The main attraction was Edward Everett, a leading academic and popular orator at the time. Everett ended up delivering a 13,607-word speech that lasted around two hours. Lincoln, who followed Everett’s speech was 10 sentences long, 270 words, and lasted around two minutes followed by positive reviews.
While the above story is a brief history refresher, it’s, more importantly, a lesson in effective leadership, communication, and productivity. When it comes to effective communication as a leader, keep this one rule in mind:
“Trim your work down to its essence.”
It’s imperative to only have the essence of what’s needed for these two reasons.
1. With clarity comes positive results.
After Lincoln’s speech, Everett came up to Lincoln and stated: “I wish that I could flatter myself that I had come as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.”
Whether you’re persuading an audience on stage, in the boardroom, or merely trying to get your staff to take further action upon your vision–be wary of diluting your message with needless fluff.
Too convoluted of an idea gets lost in useless details. People don’t care about all the details, jargon, processes, and intricacies. They care about the core message, the desired result, and how it specifically pertains to them. Anything extra is wasting oxygen.
As you go about communicating with your team, make it a goal to get into action as soon as possible and win their hearts and minds. Think brevity and precision language, not complexity.
2. Time is a premium asset.
While money is most certainly a valuable asset, it’s not more valuable than time. After all, you can’t use money to purchase more time, but you can use time to make more money.
Time is a non-renewable resource that none of us can get back. As a leader, the worst thing you can do is take up your teams time with non-urgent nor useful information that advances each of them personally. As you prepare your talks and meetings, ask yourself “Is what I’m about to share truly enhancing the lives of those around me or is some of this merely taking up time?”
You can’ afford convoluted and confusing messages. If so, there’s a chance you’ll simply be ignored and tuned out. As Present Lincoln demonstrated a little over 155 years ago, when the stakes are highest, clear and concise communication is even more paramount.
Be precise with your wording.
This article is from Inc.com