Running out of room (length vs. density)
A reporter recently hacked an interview he did with me, turning 17 emailed sentences into two and changing both the message and the way it was delivered.
That used to make sense, when papers involved column inches, but it was for an online article.
Why make things shorter than necessary if you're not paying for paper?
Why make a podcast or a talk 18 minutes long… the internet isn't going to run out of reels of tape.
As we've moved from books to posts to tweets to thumbs up, we keep making messages shorter. In a world with infinite choice, where there's always something better and more urgent a click away, it's tempting to go for shorter.
In fact, if you seek to make a difference (as opposed to gather a temporary crowd), shorter isn't what's important: Dense is.
Density is difficult to create. It's about boiling out all the surplus, getting to the heart of it, creating impact. Too much and you're boring. Not enough and you're boring.
The formula is simple to describe: make it compelling, then deliver impact. Repeat. Your speech can be two hours long if you can keep this up.
And if you can't, make it shorter!
Long isn't the problem. Boring is.
If someone cares, they'll stick around. If they don't care, they don't matter to you anyway.
(PS Hal points out that Roger Ebert had a great line on this: "No good movie is too long! No bad movie is short enough!")