Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Brevity is the soul of...

Two weeks ago I sat through a presentation in class by a student group on the topic of strategic marketing management. The presentation was given a time limit of “in and around 10 minutes” by the lecturer, however it seemed that most groups, and this group in particular were determined to just… ignore that piece of information. The presentation, which was on a potentially interesting topic ended up dragging on for at least thirty very long, very boring minutes.

I think this problem stems from the fact that as children in school we assume that bigger is very much better and surely the longer your essay etc is, the better the teacher will think it is, right?
The problem is we are never told otherwise, and many people just never figure it out. This is displayed by the fact that even after college exams you hear people boasting of how many pages they wrote, yes you may have managed to scribble out a 6 page essay, but could you have fitted it into a more concise, easy to understand and coherent 2 page essay?

"There is no virtue in writing too much, and no value in writing too little"

Were the expertly phrased words used by one of my lecturers this year, however I think that most people decide to ignore the first part of that sentence, and being fearful that there is too little, decide to drone on until the cows come home… and then die of old age.
One of the few lines I remember from my school days of studying Hamlet was “Brevity is the soul of wit” a very true statement and one that is ignored all too often, leading to collective groans when presentation time comes around because everyone knows that they are going to have to sit through an elongated, information sparse, lifeless “presentation” that will inevitably do no more than deprive them of 30 minutes of their life.

The one joy I have from this is watching the lecturers become more and more restless as slowly it dawns on them that the presentation is nowhere near finished AND will be eroding their lunch time, I imagine they are thinking lovely thoughts of giving D-‘s etc to the offending party.

Just remember its not that size that counts…


Barra said...

hey ted, I agree with both of those points;
no one listens in the business lectures
writing too much on essays is useless,it used to get me down when I'd leave an exam and hear about how many pages ppl wrote,but I have also come to the conclusion that what they wrote was probably crap.
Anyway, I just wanted to post on this bcoz I wrote it all on my iPod in UCD, haha

Macka said...

Quantity does not equal quality, it's true, and serves as a convenient excuse for those who wish to write less. I myself strive for as many pages of enlightened Arts text as humanly possible, quantity with quality = great success

That being said you can't really condense anything in Arts to less than two pages unless you haven't got a clue what you're on about..

ed said...

Yeh well shortening for the sake of shortening is also a crime, I think its about sorting the wheat from the chaff and making sure you arent just droning on about essentially nothing.

jedimasterbooboo said...

What's with the cool picture? Oh, I get it, short versus long. I know someone who looks identical to the guy on the right. But he's full size.

Sometimes, ed, I think that your blahbity blah blog entries could be shorter.

Having said that, this is one of the very few blogs that I regularly visit. So whatever, I'm just running off at the mouth again because I think I'm funny.

ed said...

Hmmm, I take mild offence to that...

Joe Funk said...

Co-sign, but my 19 pages rambling in strategic hopefully was all on point.


But generally yeah seen way to many works and project presentations where the equation quantity = quality is never true...

I see you tonight to finish "Oscar"!