In Press Release
The BRIEF Lab’s first annual report on brevity reveals trends on inattention and impatience


Chicago, Illinois – According to The BRIEF Lab’s annual report on brevity, professionals admit that being long-winded can have an immediate negative impact.

Out of 1,000 professionals surveyed, 74% admit that within a minute, they lose interest if a presentation doesn’t have a clear point. More than 43% abandon complicated or lengthy e-mails in the first 30 seconds. In addition, the survey uncovered that nearly a third of co-workers (32.2%) will tune each other out if they can’t get to the point in 15 seconds or less.

“Professionals are getting buried in e-mail, texts, and social media while their attention spans are dropping like a rock,” said Joe McCormack, founder of The BRIEF Lab and author of the book BRIEF. “This survey starts to establish a benchmark for the professional issue of being succinct and the impact it has on business.”

According to the survey, professionals admit to the following:

  • More than 70% disclose that they ignore half of the e-mails they receive every day.
  • 52% concede they cannot readily explain what they do professionally (i.e., deliver their “elevator speech”) in 60 seconds or less.
  • 46% get distracted if a presentation doesn’t grab their attention in the first 30 seconds.
  • More than seven in ten (70.7%) felt that being clear and concise was critical for continued career advancement.
  • Two-thirds consider themselves to be good active listeners, while only 44% believe their co-workers have this valuable skill.
  • 83% state that their organizations do nothing to address the issue of brevity.

“It’s alarming to see that brevity isn’t being addressed at work when most professionals are struggling with it,” said McCormack, “The survey reveals people are tuning each other out when they cannot get their attention quickly.”

According to industry sources, the average professional gets more than 300 e-mails a week and checks their smartphone a few dozen times an hour. More than half of executives feel that meetings last longer than they should. What’s more, professionals are interrupted 50-60 times a day and when they get an unexpected e-mail or phone call, 50% do not return to their previous task.

“Just like a computer cannot process an unlimited volume of data and applications, the mind can’t either,” adds McCormack. “Brevity gives professionals needed relief, especially given the constant flow of information and interruptions.”

About The BRIEF Lab

The BRIEF Lab is a business unit of the Sheffield Company ( that helps professionals become lean communicators. The BRIEF Lab offers workshops, seminars and personal coaching at its suburban Chicago, IL and Southern Pines, NC facilities. Participants can achieve levels of certification in BRIEF methodologies through such courses as Intro to BRIEF: the Art of the Elevator SpeechBRIEFingsBRIEF ManagementBRIEF Media and the Advanced Course. Managing director and founder, Joseph McCormack, is author of a new book, BRIEF: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less (John Wiley & Sons, 2014).

For more information, please contact Sarah Vazquez at 630-310-5190.

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