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Why less can be so much more

I’m at a networking breakfast. The scrambled eggs are being cleared away, I’ve drained my coffee cup and given up long ago trying to get the waiter to bring me some more.

But I’ve had some really interesting chats with the people to my left, right and opposite, so it’s been worth getting up early for.

Now it’s time for the inspirational speaker. He’s to be introduced by a man from the company that’s sponsoring the breakfast. This man, the sponsor man, is from a car leasing place. The banner behind him depicts a flashy car and has a car leasing logo. I’m not very interested.

There’s a brief, nervous introduction. And then this: “The oil baron Paul Getty once said — ‘if it appreciates, you buy it. If it depreciates, you lease it.’”
And that was about it.

He made a couple more brief comments, smiled, reminded us of which company he was from, and sat down. Ninety seconds all up, I reckon. Modestly done, not enough time for his nerves to start to infect us, and a ruthlessly clear thought that immediately got me thinking that when I finally part with my beloved Audi A1, I might lease, rather than buy. From him.

It’s a principal my fellow news reporters and I use each week making our news programmes. Less is more. In a newsroom, there’s no option: I may well have an editor telling me that it’s a really busy news day so I’ll need to sum up today’s really complex health funding crisis in 135 seconds (to include key facts, interviews, context, what the government thinks of it all and the story of someone caught up in it all.) But it sharpens the mind, and trains you well to figure out what’s going to be remembered, and what isn’t.

I came away from breakfast with five business cards, a thirst for the elusive cup of coffee, and a brand new insight into car purchasing that I may well have missed if it had been smothered in a fifteen minute talk.

I can set up my roaming newsroom in your office if you’d like your team to sharpen up their employability skills — or if you’re interested in seeing how it works at a networking event, join the fun at the Nightingale Room above the Grand Central Pub on Friday 21 April!

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