This past Wednesday I was spoke to a PR class at my alma mater, Niagara College. I love school. Honestly, if I won the lottery, I would (eventually) end up back in learning the craziest things in different places all around the world. But, I digress.
Teaching is always a wonderful experience, if you love the subject you are talking about and you have a good audience. I, of course, spoke about the two things I know professionally: social media and PR. I had a blast, sharing some of the wonderful examples of how amazing social media is (both online and offline). The picture inset is the thoughtful thank you gift they gave me.
Of course, as I was driving home, I thought of a whole bunch of other stuff I wish I had time to share with them; I probably could have talked for days. But it wasn’t until today, while using Twitter, that I saw another glaring comparison to a class assignment from when I was studying public relations.
I think it’s safe to say that Twitter is one of the fastest growing communities out there. And, most people agree, one of the greatest features of Twitter is that you can’t write anything that’s over 140 characters long. I believe its popularity is largely due to that fact – people don’t have the time (or patience) to sit and read (or write) long articles anymore. In essence, these short little updates provide convenience for users.
However, it is quite a skill to be able to communicate effectively within that limitation.
Which brings me to my class assignment from 3 years ago. We had to rewrite book and movie reviews to be six words long, exactly six words long. It was a tough task, as we were docked marks for ‘filler’ words (mostly adjectives).
Shortly after that assignment, a Wired article (one of the most memorable to me) was published where they asked various authors to write a story in just six words. Wired wrote that Hemingway‘s best work was a story that was just that length (For sale: baby shoes, never worn.) Had I not done that assignment, I probably wouldn’t have appreciated the article as much.
And perhaps I wouldn’t have appreciated Twitter that much either. I wonder if people who use it frequently have learned to be more concise in their regular, daily communications. Perhaps people who enjoy Twitter are already concise communicators. Perhaps being concise isn’t the main point at all; instead, it’s making sure that we are communicating effectively by using each word to its fullest potential.
Hat tip to Mrs. Geddie, former instructor, for being way ahead of the curve.