6 Words Stories. Limits, Tension & Creativity

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Baby shoes, never worn, for sale. That was the shortest story written. It started circling around 1910. Some thought Hemingway wrote it. However there is no evidence he did. But even thought the Old Man And The Sea author of this emotionally charged narrative, it is a brilliant example that sometimes you do not need much to say a lot. Limits create tension. Tension makes look for creative solutions. Providing you have a growth mindset. And you embrace limits. You embrace the struggle. 

The 6 word story inspired the Smith Magazine to come up with the anthology of short stories written by famous and not-so-famous authors. The book is Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure. Read it. Ok, that’s not obligatory. However I’d like to encourage you to play a little with the concept of 6 words. First: create a tagline. One sentence that says a lot about you using 6 words only. 6 words precisely. Mine is: I help people hone their message. You can also think of a 6 word pitch for your company or project you are currently working on. Make sure you say what you want to with just 6 words. Limitations create tension. Tension boosts creativity. Maybe Leadfeeder‚s message will inspire you. This Finnish startup says: We turn website visitors into leads

15 seconds. That’s not much. But that is a lot of time to say everything that you need to say about your startup or company. Embrace the pressure of time and design the message map. It’s one simple tool to help you communicate everything there is to say about your project. First you craft a twitter friendly headline that says what you do in less than 140 characters. Less. Mine is: I help people hone their message and design communication. To support that headline you need three supporting messages. Use them wisely. Start by finding keywords that really give you competitive advantage. Mine are #science, #global, #mindset. So the whole message map goes like this:

I help people hone their message and design communication. I use cognitive psychology and neuroscience. I test theories in practice working with companies from Azerbaijan, Moldova, Slovenia, Austria, Australia, Chile and Poland. And I constantly learn new things.

That’s it. When spoke it should not be longer than 15 seconds.

A member of the Cabinet congratulated president Wilson on introducing the vogue of short speeches and asked him about the time it took him to prepare his speeches. He said: It depends. If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half an hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now. Perfecting short messages to make them effective takes time. As someone once said: If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter. When we are facing limits we should not panic. A 3 minute pitch is a brilliant challenge. Not a curse. Let’s all minimise words load. Next time you write an email, try to say all you need to say in 5 sentences. Next time you prepare a keynote say less. And you will see you’ll ultimately say more.