Sunday, March 14, 2010
Why less is more – or even less
On March 7th Bob Malloney posted an article titled Public Speaking - Why Less Is More. He began by lamenting that most business presentations he heard suffered from information overload. They could have been improved by presenting less information. Cut your presentation down until it is simple and powerful, with just a few main points.
The aphorism of minimalism that “less is more” is commonly associated with the German-American architect, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe who lived from 1886 to 1969.
Stephen D. Boyd also said it about speech writing for public speaking with a few more words:
“…follow the proverb, ‘Less is better than more.’ Never use three words when you can say it in two.”
Similarly, the chief engineer of Douglas Aircraft, Ed Heinemann, said to:
“Simplicate, and add lightness.”
Heinemann was particularly famous as the designer of the agile, little, delta-winged A-4 Skyhawk attack aircraft. If you saw the movie Top Gun, then you saw the instructors in their Skyhawks merrily harassing the bigger, faster F-14 Tomcats. (For 13 seasons the Navy’s aerobatic team, the Blue Angels, flew Skyhawks).
Minimalism in all kinds of design involves an optimum, so “less is more” is a half-truth. It really calls for cutting out the fat while leaving the meat. You cannot keep cutting and expect that a design with zero content would be infinitely effective. Instead it probably would be completely ineffective. So, really less is more – until it is less.