One question that many of our clients ask is, “How much should we say?” Whether it’s content for their website, newspaper ad copy, or next month’s blog post, they look to us for guidance.

It’s not an easy question to answer.

We’re living in the age of distraction. In our “always on” society, there’s an abundance of news and entertainment to take and hold our attention. But not for long. In our effort to multitask and keep up, it’s been widely reported that we’ve lost our ability to stay focused.

It may seem obvious to keep your message short and simple. But that doesn’t always work. Think back to this year’s Academy Awards when host Jimmy Kimmel announced that a jet ski would be awarded to the Oscar winner with the shortest acceptance speech. Costume designer Mark Bridges won the night by keeping his words to just 30 seconds. Do you remember what he said? Neither do I. It was the shortest speech of the night, but certainly not the best.

Secret #1: Touch the human heart

A well-crafted message should say something that touches the human heart. Whether it’s funny, emotional or downright embarrassing, that’s when lightning strikes and we connect. We laugh, we cry, and we empathize.

Let’s go back to the Oscar’s for a minute. Let’s face it, we’re tired of hearing those long and drawn out acceptance speeches, year after year. Until the unexpected happens. When Jack Palance won at the age of 73, he celebrated by doing one-armed push-ups on the stage. From Halle Berry, declaring, “This moment is so much bigger than me” to Sally Field’s “You like me!” the best speeches are part of pop culture. Suddenly, in moments such as these, we care.

Whether it’s long or short, it’s what you say and how you say it that matters.

Secret #2: Say what matters

But how much should we say? Consider that the word count matters less than the content. What’s your point? Whether it’s long or short, it’s what you say and how you say it that matters. What story is your brand telling and who is the hero? Hint: it should be your product or service.

The best writers and orators use simple language and concise sentences. This helps to hold your audience’s attention and keep your points memorable. Think back to some of the greatest speeches and you’ll discover some good tips. From Martin Luther King’s, “I have a dream” to Wayne Gretsky’s, “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” Their speeches convey powerful messages by providing a glimpse into the future or painting a powerful picture in our mind.

Secret #3: Don’t outclever yourself

Do you recall the tips for writing prose that we learned in school, such as alliteration, rhymes and repetition? These are all very effective and we highly recommend them, but these poetic devices must be handled with care, and sound natural. If every blog post sounded like it was programmed in our Studio, then no one would read it. Clever copy never tries too hard. Look to Nike’s slogan, “Just Do It,” or Apple’s “Think Different.”  Simple words and very inspiring.

The next time you find yourself asking, “Are we saying too much?”, the answer is probably “yes.” Instead, try asking “Why we should care?” Our recommendation is to make your content count. First, make sure you have something to say, then find a way to say it.