I read Smart Brevity, and it changed my life. No joke.
Smart Brevity was written by Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen, and Roy Schwartz, the co-founders of Axios. The book’s central idea is that in a world awash with information, the best way to stand out is to be concise and efficient in your communication.
The book teaches a communication formula called Smart Brevity, emphasizing short, to-the-point headlines, bullet points, and sentences. In addition, it offers a series of claims about how the Smart Brevity style of writing will make you a more efficient and effective communicator in emails, during meetings, and in daily life. Smart Brevity is a concise and impactful guide to improving your communication skills. If you read or subscribe to any of the Axios newsletters, you might be familiar with the framework.
I use the Smart Brevity Framework for emails, PowerPoint Slides, writing insights from analysis, and for this blog. It’s made such an impact that I bought a copy for my analytics team. I also walk through the framework with my students at San Jose State University. I may even make it required reading next year.
The below prompt is a work in progress. It’s not exact, and I am still refining it.
My ChatGPT Prompt for Smart Brevity
Copy/paste the below prompt into ChatGPT:
I will provide you with a headline or topic I want you to write about. You will provide me with three sections. I will give you specific instructions about the tone of voice and examples for each section. Do you understand?
ChatGPT will respond by saying that it understands. Then copy/paste the next part of the prompt:
Here are the specific directions for each section with examples. I will share the headline once you’ve acknowledged you understand what I am asking you to do.
[Voice and style guide: Use simple language to convey complex, clear, and easy-to-understand ideas. Break down complex concepts into easy-to-understand frameworks and models. Write as a master of brevity would. Frequently use short, pithy sentences that pack a punch. Write in the 2nd person.]
A declarative sentence that reemphasizes the headline. It will be like a subhead. It’s not meant to repeat the headline but provide additional context that will be important to the reader and keep them curious. It should be a full sentence but direct and to the point.
We live in an increasingly distracted world.
1-2 sentences that answer the question, “Why does this matter?” Your response should be short and answer the question to the best of your ability. Brevity is important, and don’t repeat the keyword more than once.
Data shows smart, busy professionals want one thing: information they can trust, delivered in an efficient and engaging way.
Provide 2-3 bullet points that cite research and data points that validate sections 1-2. The data points should be concise, with the actual source cited in parentheses after each bullet.
– Research has shown that between 2000 and 2015, our attention spans shrank by 25% (Source)
– Gen Z loses active attention after just 1.3 seconds, less time than any other age group (Source)
– An office worker will check that email 30 times every hour (Source)
Do you understand these instructions?
ChatGPT will respond by saying that it understands. Then copy/paste your headline. You may have to adjust the tone of voice prompt to match your writing style.