Take Time to Be Brief
Twain needed three weeks to prepare an “impromptu” speech. Jazz masters put in years of practice in order to effortlessly improvise. Likewise, marketers spend hours rewriting snappy tweets, and there's a reason that entrepreneurs refer to crafting their elevator pitch as an art.
It's because spontaneity-- at least in communications-- ironically requires preparation. And being brief can often require extensive time and effort.
In fact, it seems the tighter the constraints, the greater the effort. Whether it's writing a 50-word product description, deciding on a catchy tagline, or developing that elevator pitch-- brevity requires us to focus. It forces us to decide what's most important, and to make trade-offs.
Behind those 50-word paragraphs are the full-length descriptions, the white papers, the blog posts, the backstory, and detailed technical specifications. It takes serious effort to cull from all those materials, as well as all the knowledge inside your head, to choose the right fifty words.
In order to get to crisp and confident, I find that the full feature piece (or presentation, blog, or press release) usually needs to be hashed out first. You need the long form, with all your finer points articulated. You need input and a few round of revisions, and maybe even some time to set it aside and come back to it-- before you can write that perfect headline.
So when you hear: "We'd just like you to say a few words...," or "It's only a 50-word description..," make sure to carve out some time.