I attended a meeting recently where the person was allotted a few minutes to make a presentation. The fellow started by saying, “I’ll be brief.” He then went on to take a ridiculous amount of time to explain the thing he was supposed to be brief about!

The moment he said, “I’ll be brief,” I started counting in my head how long he had been up there.

Listen. There’s no need to tell your audience you are going to be brief. They were not behind the curtain with the coordinators of the meeting at which time you were given how long you were allowed to speak. What is more, by saying “I’ll be brief” you may be unduly telling your host that you don’t appreciate being rushed with such an important topic as the one you are going to speak about. What is more, you lost me–and everyone else!–at the 30 second mark. What is more, you are telling me (your audience) that your announcement doesn’t merit a “regular” length…but just a short, small, insignificant highlight. Your whole sentence doesn’t need underlining, so I (as your hearer) don’t underline any of it! 

Brevity is a relative term. To be brief as an announcement could be 10 seconds or it could be 5 minutes (especially if the previous “brief” presentation went 10 minutes–in which case you will be slighting the previous presenter as you indict him for not being brief!)

Don’t say you’ll be brief. I will not listen to you as I now know you will not be brief. Like the preacher who belabors (and adds to!) his last point. By being brief, it must not be that important if all it requires is a brief comment.

Simply put: Be brief.

After you sit down, I will be thankful for your brevity and if I have questions, I will find you later–or ask the person next to me–or check the website for details.