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Communicators: Less Really IS More

I recently came across a great song by Jason Mraz called, “I Won’t Give Up.”  

The first time I heard it, I was hooked. It immediately went to my driving playlist, I watched the music video and I even took time to sit and watch him perform it on Storytellers.

About a week ago, I was listening to some of his other tracks on Spotify when a demo version of the song popped up. It was a little bonus track tucked away on the album that released only to iTunes. As I listened to it, it did not take long to realize that this version was different than the radio version. The demo had an extra verse and even an a cappella section. I loved it, but soon realized that he had done a lot of editing to get the final version that would make it to the radio. Leaving an entire verse and an emotional breakdown section on the cutting room floor?

That’s pretty admirable … and very wise.

As you probably know, most songs on the radio are between three and four minutes long. Beyond that an artist will lose a lot of listeners.  

Jason’s original demo was 5:16. It was an incredible song, but with it being that long, the odds of it taking off and reaching it’s maximum amount of people were very small. He had to make cuts and eliminate the pieces that were not necessary.

Intuitively, that makes a lot of sense doesn’t it?  

If you knew that you had to make cuts to be more accessible, most of us assume that we would do it. Unfortunately, the truth is that it’s just not that easy, is it? There is something in every communicator that pushes them to accept that more = better.

Last week, the folks over at Orange tweeted a great quote that speaks directly to this idea. The quote comes from an expressionist painter named Hans Hofmann.

The principle that Hans Hofmann and Jason Mraz knew is that more doesn’t make us better … often times, it just makes us less effective, less memorable and less successful. Cultivating the ability to simplify and leave good, even great, information on the cutting room floor is one of the marks of a great communicator.

– What if this week, you made the decision to give a sermon with one point instead of three?

– What if this week, you cut one illustration from your sermon, so that your most powerful illustration could speak louder?

– What if this Saturday, after the talk was finished, you took 30 extra minutes in your prep time, simply to ask yourself, “What can I cut?”

Remember: Your most memorable and effective messages are found through elimination and not addition.  

Question: What is something that you are going to eliminate from your message this week?