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The ability to be clear and concise is an invaluable skill.

When challenged to write a novel in only six words, Hemingway famously replied: For sale: baby shoes. Never worn. His talent for engaging an audience via the most direct route possible is increasingly apparent in a world where the soundbite is king and news spreads globally in 140 characters or fewer.

With so much information at our fingertips, it’s difficult to focus on a single message, unless it’s relevant, targeted and pithy. To help you get to the point more effectively, we’ve tracked down a list of the five key strategies used by top communicators.

1.       Communicate in headlines. Whether in person or online, condensing your thoughts into a brief, catchy point is key to successfully capturing your audience. Don’t believe it? Check the front page of your favourite newspaper or website. Most articles reveal their focus and entice readers to learn more with headlines of only five to eight words in length.

2.       Know what you’re talking about. It’s difficult to get to the point if you’re not sure what the point is. Taking the time to understand your topic allows you to discern what information is essential so that you can help your target audience focus on what’s important.

3.       Understand your audience. Getting the message across with minimal fuss and maximum effect means knowing what’s important to the people you’re speaking to. A person’s age, gender, background, location and lifestyle can significantly affect how they interpret your message, so make an effort to understand what they want to hear.

4.       Use the correct medium. Technology has made accessing information a customisable experience. A Facebook post is of little use if your audience only reads the Financial Times. Additionally, if you’re using social media, zero in on how users speak to one another, i.e. using appropriate message length, hashtags and abbreviations to increase the reach of your message.

5.       Make an impression. Concise communication isn’t just about what you say – it’s about how you say it. Even online, the tone and personality of your message should convey the right amount of gravitas or aplomb. Take a moment to be sure that what you’re saying is memorable, interesting or useful.

We could all benefit by being a little more concise in how we express ourselves – both personally and professionally. Whether in print, online or in person, make 2014 the year you get to the point!