Book Review: ‘Smart Brevity’ by Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen, and Roy Schwartz


Book Title: Smart Brevity: The Power of Saying More with Less
Authors: Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen, and Roy Schwartz
Publisher: Nicholas Brealey Publishing
Number of Pages: 224
ISBN: 978-1399809641
Date Published: Mar. 24, 2023
Price: INR 465

Smart Brevity by Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen, and Roy SchwartzBook Cover

Book Review

Smart Brevity: The Power of Saying More with Less” by Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen, and Roy Schwartz is a book that aims to teach readers how to write concisely and effectively. The authors claim that successful communication necessitates brevity in today’s information-saturated environment. The book’s central theme is that readers are more likely to interact with the material and retain knowledge by writing in a brief and clever style.

Axios is cited as a prominent example of this strategy by the writers. Axios was famed for its breaking news journalism, and one of its correspondents, Jonathan Swan, became a media hero during the Trump administration. The promise of Axios to offer news without superfluous verbiage, focused on giving bits of information straight to its users, was its primary benefit. The writers provide lessons learned from their experience at Politico, where they observed that, despite paying hefty rates, most corporate customers did not appreciate lengthy pieces the most.

Smart Brevity” accepts the realities of current reading habits, recognizing that individuals spend a lot of time on their phones, ingesting information from numerous applications. The book is divided into twenty-four small chapters, each with names such as “Grab me!,” “ONE Big Thing,” and “Be Heard @Work.” It serves as a how-to guide for writing successfully, drawing similarities to drafting meaningful emails and employing social media tools such as tweets and emoticons. The book’s contents are presented uniquely, and the color coding of pages with minimal words to describe the topic lightens the reading load.

Smart Brevity” is a writing style prioritizing brevity and clarity in communication. Here are several key ways in which it distinguishes itself from other writing styles:

  • Concise Structure: “Smart Brevity” emphasizes crafting short and impactful sentences accompanied by to-the-point headlines and bullet points.
  • Time-Saving: The primary objective is to save readers’ time and attention by swiftly conveying the main points without unnecessary fluff or verbosity.
  • Emphasis on Conciseness: This writing style underscores the significance of being succinct, avoiding superfluous words that do not add value to the message.
  • Modern Relevance: “Smart Brevity” aligns well with contemporary communication demands, catering to individuals constantly bombarded with information and having limited attention spans.
  • Corporate and News Writing: It finds frequent use in corporate settings and news writing, where the goal is to efficiently deliver information to busy readers who require immediate access to essential details.

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Some reviews laud the book’s practical ideas and entertaining language, describing it as a helpful resource for better workplace communication. Others, on the other hand, criticize it for being excessively focused on business settings and for lacking depth in its substance. Some reviewers believe the book might have been even shorter if it had followed its suggestions.

Regardless of one’s point of view, “Smart Brevity” includes essential tips on email design, developing actionable information, and delivering great Powerpoint presentations. It may be a helpful resource for new college graduates joining the business sector. Finally, the book hopes to help readers communicate more effectively while adapting to short attention spans and information saturation. While it may not be suitable for everyone, it might be a useful resource for people looking to improve their writing abilities and communicate their views more effectively.

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