Micro Message, Big Impact

Think big, write little: the importance of micro messages

For anyone working even minimally on a computer, a long e-mail is a curse. Just by its sheer length it annoys you, and the sender immediately loses credibility. In the age of communication, words are a precious tool with which to get your ideas noticed and shared. Use too many and risk being ignored; too few and risk sounding vague or, even worse, fake.

“Maximizing the communicative power of few and simple elements was an important aim of modernism in all the arts,” points out Christopher Johnson in his book Microstyle: The Art of Writing Little. Micro messages have been around since headlines have been written, but Twitter, text messages and e-mails have made this type of writing relevant to all of us.

In a world where human attention has become a scarce resource, being able to express a lot with little has become an essential tool for survival. Johnson suggests that micro messages have become predominant in modern life not because of diminishing attention spans, but because of “verbal attention economy.” Where there is information overload, simple and powerful messages are a treasure that can get you or your company attention, respect and, in some cases, money.

So keep it simple, be specific and engage by using metaphors, playing with clichés, and calling on the senses. “Some people gain [Twitter] followers simply by sharing popular links and news items, but others make quips and observations and otherwise use microstyle to create a microvoice,” says Johnson.

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September 14th, 2012 5 Comments Professionalism

  1. FlorinceRostoker

    I HATE long emails. I think it insults my intelligence. On the other hand there’s people who have to have everything carefully explained…i guess it goes both ways.


    September 14th, 2012 //
  2. ftpmumbojumbo

    I think the perfect formula is using the least amount of words to make your massage clear to the recipiant.

    September 14th, 2012 //
  3. Yasser

    Thanks for this post – a real eye-opener. I sometimes suffer from writing lengthy emails that explain every little detail. So, I will definitely take a look at the Book, Microstyle

    September 15th, 2012 //
  4. Kate

    Interesting article, but sorry to say that you lost credibility with me when you said “looses credibility” instead of “loses”.

    September 17th, 2012 //
  5. BMJ

    Thanks, Kate.

    Nice catch!

    September 17th, 2012 //

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