Wednesday, March 6, 2013

One-Page Bias

How do you like for people to communicate with you? Have you ever thought about it? After some brief reflection, it was clear to me: I have a one-page bias. I receive information best when it has been distilled down to its essence. Here’s something else I’ve discovered over the years: a lot of other people share this same bias.

One-Page Bias

I know there are exceptions, but I’ve come to think of it as a universal truth of communications – less is more. I’ve seen it work countless times. A well-conceived, well-written single page virtually always creates more buy-in and action than a 20-page report. If this is true, why do people continue to write tomes when a page would do? I think there are at least three reasons…

  • You may not understand the topic well enough. A depth of knowledge is required to state something simply. The more complex the issue, the more skill and understanding are required to express it succinctly.
  • You don’t understand your audience well enough. If you have an unknown audience, you’ll be tempted to go wide. Translated, you choose to shoot with a shotgun rather than a rifle. If you know your audience you can say less, with confidence you’ll still hit the mark.
  • You may feel more verbiage will bolster your perceived expertise on the topic. Perhaps this is an issue of confidence, or lack thereof. Or, maybe it’s a case of trying to build someone else’s confidence in you. Regardless, my confidence in someone goes up when he/she knows a topic well enough to state it clearly and simply.

What are the advantages of presenting information on one page?

  • It saves time (and time is money). I had a situation years ago in which members of my team were writing lengthy visit reports (often 10+ pages). The time investment was sometimes a full day to write a single report. Another member of the team suggested the group try writing one-page reports. The impact was immediate!
  • It adds clarity. When you read a one-page report or proposal, much of the mystery has been removed. It’s not automatic, but clearly, the chances of clarity go up drastically in one page vs. twenty. It’s much easier to identify what’s important when it’s on one page. Remove the confusion!
  • Increased clarity increases the chance of action. Most communication is trying to drive someone to action. Be clear on what, why and how and watch your hit rate go up drastically.

There are other advantages of communicating on one page. However, since I’m at the end of my one page, I’ll let you add your own reasons to give this approach a try.

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Comments (5)
  1. Mark, You hit the nail on the head. Less IS more. I now operate from a one-page business plan and it’s improved my focus and clarity. Thanks. #LeadWithGiants

    - Dan Forbes
    • Dan, thanks for your comment! A one-page bias has helped my focus too. Please let me know if I can serve you in the future. Mark

  2. Brevity can be such a helpful tool – especially in our distracted world. What I love is that what you have listed here applies to speaking in public too.

    - David Sparks
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