Brevity is the soul of wit!

Brevity is the soul of wit, a saying taken from Shakespeare’s Hamlet and adopted by many since.  I grew up with brothers and was often reminded of this saying when I went on, even slightly too long, in making any sort of point at the dinner table.

A student in a recently wrote me and asked how to speak in a concise and yet powerful manner, saying, “I’ve struggled with being able to get my point across, and do so in a very basic, and simple manner. I have all of these great ideas in my head but they seem to get stuck in translation from ideas to words. Do you have any advice on how to hone those communication skills and become a more concise and eloquent speaker?”

Among the advice I shared with this student, a college student, was to:  consider taking a public speaking course.  I took one in college and it was not only fun but one of the most helpful classes I have ever taken.  If you can’t fit in time for a class, or your school does not offer one, take a theater class (that involves performing), or join Toast Masters.

As to consolidating ideas, I suggested writing them out (in as long a form as necessary), then re-writing and condensing over and over until  you have something concise that still conveys your thoughts.  It may be helpful to keep a journal, and or write a blog.

For law students, speak up in class.  Responding to professors’ questions in class is a superb way to gaining practice in public speaking. Go to office hours and ask your professors questions.  (Even articulating your thoughts to one person will help you learn to speak concisely.)  And, participate in Moot Court.

There is no doubt that speaking is an important “power tool” for any leader.  Hone your skills now, while in school  And, then continue working on them forever.


Author: Sara J. Berman

Sara J. Berman, a graduate of the UCLA School of Law, is a Professor of Law and Assistant Dean at the Touro Law Center. She formerly served as a Director at the Washington DC-based Center for Legal Education Excellence.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: