Axios Finish Line

An analog clock with only two symbols instead of twelve: the symbols read 'AM' and 'PM'.

Welcome back. Today's host is Axios CEO Jim VandeHei β€” he's at [email protected].

  • Smart Brevityβ„’ count: 492 words ... 2 mins.

1 big thing: Our secret sauce for better communication

Illustration of a coffee mug with the Axios logo with steam forming a thought bubble
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Our new book, "Smart Brevity," lays out what the data, science β€” and our own experience β€” show about how to be heard on what matters most to you, Jim writes.

Why it matters: We see, up close, how many people and organizations are blowing the chance to retool their communications for this era of distraction.

  • Smart Brevity is the art of speaking and writing more efficiently and effectively.
  • It's how I write Finish Line, lead our people and run our company. It works β€” and can be taught. Our book teaches it, piece by piece, in a quick, 100-minute read.

We didn't write this for journalists (outside of Axios). In fact, most of them will probably hate it β€” it argues they should stop being long-winded and meandering.

  • Instead, it's for students, teachers, workers and leaders β€” anyone struggling to be heard in these noisy times.

If you think I'm nuts, let these stats soak in:

  1. The University of Maryland did extensive studies of how people read on social media, in school and in business β€” and found we spend 26 seconds, on average, on things we choose to read!
  2. We check our phones an average of 260+ times each day, according to a Review.org study. If you're shaking your head, I dare you to count your own glances.
  3. Most of what you share on social media, you didn't even read, according to our internal data at Axios.Β Think about that: We see a photo or headline β€” and get such a dopamine jolt that we just hit "share" like mindless lemmings.
  4. Gallup found that 70% of employees want shorter communications at work.

Despite all that, most people in schools, companies and other organizations communicate like it's 1990 β€” when people had more time and fewer choices.

Reality check: Most people don't β€” and won't β€” read most of what you write (if any of it).Β It's true for you, for me, for everyone.

  • But you can vastly increase your chances of being read or heard if you adapt β€” fast.

πŸ“¦ If you enjoy getting Finish Line free, please order "Smart Brevity" here.

  • All the proceeds go to the Axios Fellowship Program, which funds yearlong, paid positions in our newsroom for early-career journalists from underrepresented backgrounds.

Next Thursday: simple tricks to instantly put this into practice.

β˜• Coffee with Finish Line

If you buy "Smart Brevity" β€” either online or at your favorite bookstore β€” send us a photo of yourself with your copy to join a virtual conversation with the three of us! Just hit reply to this email or reach us at [email protected].

  • We'll talk Finish Line themes and leadership tips and tricks β€” and we'll hear what you have to say.

Oh, and the first 15 people to send us their pics will get Axios Finish Line hats!