Category Archives: Twain


Short Elevator Speeches Take More Time

Salvatore Vuono

“If you want me to give you a two-hour presentation, I am ready today.  If you want only a five-minute speech, it will take me two weeks to prepare.”

Most agree Mark Twain said this.  Yet other speakers (Churchill) had similar quotes about brevity being the soul of wit.  I’ve been smiling about it since I’ve been writing several short scripts for demo, or explainer, videos.  Writing short takes longer – no doubt!  These “shorts” are one minute, maybe two in length, and serve as an elevator speech in video.  Can you describe your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) in 60 seconds?  It’s hard.

Yet, in our fast world, the ability to relate benefits quickly translates into business success.  I’ve been heartened to see new entrepreneurs in our uncertain economy.  Learning to communicate concisely will benefit them.

See how some new businesses are communicating their elevator speech at



Twain’s Civilization

“Civilization is a limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessaries.”

Leave it to Mark Twain to capture a big point in a little sentence. Twain adheres to Strunk & White’s admonishment to omit needless words. It may be hard to say “unnecessary necessaries” ten times fast but the juxtaposition of opposites somehow adds Twain’s trademark humor to the sentence.

Last weekend I packed the family for vacation and was trying to take only the necessities – yet our Sienna was packed full! It’s a mindset I will continue to challenge.