The One Pager

Below is a memo Winston Churchill sent to his War Cabinet, stressing the need for brevity. I absolutely love it.

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A good way to encourage people to be concise, is to ask for them to outline their idea on one page.

This does two things. Firstly, it forces you to think about how to structure what you’re saying. How you should start and finish it. Exactly what to include and in what order.

When you can’t get away with a stream of consciousness, you have no choice but to do this. If you don’t, you risk leaving out something critical.

Secondly, because you don’t have the space, you’re forced to include only what counts. In doing so, you may realise some parts of your idea are unnecessary and you often end up with a simpler idea.

It’s one of the reasons I like OGSP for strategic plans. It brings together goals, strategies and plans onto one page.

Sure, you have to work harder to make ideas fit on one page. But, when you do, its so much easier for others to digest. And that gives you a better chance of your ideas being understood and making an impact.

This can work for lots of things — ideas, policies, feedback, agreements etc.

So, the next time there is a need to put something down on paper, ask people for a ‘one pager’. They may squirm a bit at first, but you’ll be amazed how people adjust and get into the habit of being to the point about things.

P.S here are a few resources that help with writing brevity:

Hemingway Editor
The Day You Became a Better Writer
Writing, briefly
Write like you talk

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