Book Review: BRIEF

I recently finished Brief: make a bigger impact by saying less by Joseph McCormack.

Brief makes a compelling case for shorter and clearer communication. Something that many of us struggle with, and is particularly critical in a professional context where good communication is essential for driving effective collaboration.

Brief offers two compelling, though somewhat overlapping, frameworks for organizing your content in an effective and short narrative. While the “Narrative Map” seems to be a more abstract structure for effective storytelling, the “Brief Map” seems to be a contextualized application of it to more common communication triggers in a professional setting.

The Narrative Map

  • Focal Point — What holds the story together? The main point or organizing principle, letting listeners know what the narrative is about and why they should care.
  • Setup (challenge) — Where every story begins, introducing the issue, problem or unmet need that forms the groundwork for the rest of the narrative.
  • Setup (opportunity) — The opportunity that is inherent in every story. The audience feels there’s a positive force to resolve the conflict for the remainder of the narrative.
  • Body (how, where, etc.) — Three to five key elements that enable the story to develop and move forward. These elements tell who, how, when and where the story gets resolved.
  • Payoff (conclusion) — The story’s payoff — where the challenge and opportunity are resolved, resulting in changing how the audience thinks, feels or acts.

The Brief Map

  • Background/Beginning — What is the current situation, issue, or problem?
  • Relevance/Reason — What does it really mean for the audience? What do we want them to do with the information?
  • Information for inclusion — What key pieces of information or ideas do we need to share to give the audience a clearer understanding of the situation
  • Ending or conclusion — What does success look like?
  • Follow up — What questions do we anticipate at the end?

It was interesting comparing and contrasting the Brief Map to the framework that I created a while back and integrating the best pieces of both:

I’m glad that I read “Brief” as I’m confident that I’ll come back to these two frameworks either when drafting my own communications or when coaching others. But overall, I’d “Brief” falls into the category of books that “should have been a 10-page whitepaper/HBR article” as I didn’t get much more out of it past these two tools. So I guess “Brief” should have been briefer 🙂

Book Review: BRIEF

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