Smart Brevity® powers clear communication


Smart Brevity® powers clear communication

We're all slammed with too many words. Slacked words. Emailed words. Texted words. Words, words, words.

  • Attention spans are shrinking.
  • Reader habits are shifting.

Both create an urgent need to evolve how we communicate. Smart Brevity is how we break through.

Two minutes on Smart Brevity

Axios HQ's formula for clear, effective communication

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👉  Smart Brevity deep dive

Understand the workplace comms crisis, leadership strategies to survive it and how Smart Brevity can help — all in one quick email.

Why Smart Brevity works

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Why Smart Brevity works

It starts with data. We spent years digging into data, science and consumer trends and saw most folks are:

  • Overwhelmed — checking messages 70-400x a day.
  • Under-informed — missing critical context.
  • Frustrated — ignoring long, impenetrable updates.
  • Tight on time — reading for 26 seconds, on average.

Then we built a format to fix that. Smart Brevity was born in a newsroom and perfected inside 300+ organizations big and small. The result: clearer updates, happier readers.


💡 Get smart: See how Delta, Edelman & others use it   →

How Smart Brevity works

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How Smart Brevity works

Let's start with how modern minds work. When we see new content — no matter the type — our brains ask two things:

  • What is this about?
  • Is this relevant to me?

If we can't get to "yes" in about 17 milliseconds, we move on. Smart Brevity leans into that, telling readers "What's new" and "Why it matters" first — always — so they stick with us. The result: stronger engagement and trust.


💡 Get smart: Why "What's new" & "Why it matters" works  →

What Smart Brevity looks like


What Smart Brevity looks like

Whether we're reading 10 words or 10,000, if our eyes hit a big block of text, we zone out. Shut the email. Star the tab.

  • Yes, but: There's a winning mix of white space, bolding and bullets that will break us out of that haze.

And it works for any form of communication. It's built on insight from eye-tracking labs and 5+ years of testing. The result: 50% shorter read times, on average.

👇 Read the Smart Brevity before and after

Before Smart Brevity

Board of Directors Update

We presented on our progress toward our go-to-market plan in our most recent Board of Directors meeting, Wednesday, including strong product sales over the last quarter within the scope of our beta test, which will allow increased investment in key early growth opportunities across tech and marketing. Plus, with three new manufacturing deals close to closing, Ava’s team is proving their revamped sales pitch was the right move, which sets us up to light our sales pipeline on fire! She got great reactions in the room from the Board.

Back to growth opportunities, we’re updating the second-half roadmap with big investments in the tech team, particularly on the machine learning squad, marketing, to support Ava’s team as they work to capitalize on the early success we’ve seen with the new pitch noted above, and in some exciting new collaborations with firms doing work where we don’t have internal capacity but do have a strategic need to fold missing capabilities into our operations and offering.

This is really exciting stuff, and it’s not only Ava’s team that deserves major credit. We’re seeing historically high sales volumes, and that’s a testament to the whole company. Take a bow, everyone. We were able to “wow” the Board with a report including a 12 percent jump in revenue over the last quarter, which puts us an extraordinary 90 percent of the way to our overall goal for the second half. And that doesn’t include those three pending manufacturing deals. More on those in next week’s update, once we “seal the deal.”

If you haven’t taken time to review Ava’s new sales pitch, we encourage everyone to take a moment to do so. The new talking points went through a lot of pressure testing with focus groups and reflect our best case to date on why our solution is the best in the industry. The materials are available to everyone on the intranet, filed under GLOBAL >> SALES MATERIALS >> PITCH [NEW].

After Smart Brevity

1 big thing: We wowed our Board

We stunned the Board of Directors Wednesday with our 12% Q3 revenue jump, which puts us 90% to goal for H2.

Why it matters: Higher revenue than ever means we can invest in growth areas that will speed up our go-to-market plan by months.

New hires: We can now fill key machine learning roles on the tech team and fill out Ava's marketing team, too.

Partnerships: We'll also finalize priority deals with two firms to expand key capabilities until we can bring them in-house.

How we did it: Testing, testing, testing. Our product speaks for itself, but it was Ava's new sales pitch — pressure tested over three weeks of focus groups — that got it into customers' hands.

What's next: We're closing in on two big manufacturing deals that should put us over the top for revenue goals — look out for more on those in our next update.

Learn Smart Brevity

Our 7-part short course gets you smarter, faster

Explore our episode lineup

1. What is Smart Brevity?

Step inside the Axios newsroom for an introduction to the company and its Smart Brevity communication style. This video explores how it started, why it’s powerful and what you’ll learn in the rest of this series.

2. Win the War for Attention

We are writing, recording, texting, speaking more words than ever, and important messages are getting missed. This video explores how reader behaviors are changing — and why there’s an urgent need for our communication style to evolve just as quickly.

3. Audience first

So often, communication starts with what we want to say — rather than what our audience needs to know. This video explores a simple Smart Brevity exercise that can help reverse that thinking.

4. Three parts of a communication

Smart Brevity, in its written form, has three key parts. Say them first — and keep them focused — and you’ll see reader engagement grow. This video explores what they are and how to optimize each.

5. Styling for impact

About 60-80% of readers will scan — not read — what you send them, but strategic styling can change that story. This video explores the art of short paragraphs, bolding, bullets and white space.

6. A real-life before & after

The principles of Smart Brevity add up to one, simple checklist. This video explores a real-life Smart Brevity edit — so you can see how every step gets you closer to clearer, more effective communication.

7. How to put it to work

There is nowhere Smart Brevity has more influence than in day-to-day professional communication. This video explores how it impacts three key types: emails, press releases, reports.


💬   Join a Smart Brevity open house

In a free 1-hour webinar, a Smart Brevity expert will dig into the muscle behind our style — and the tips you need to apply it.


You’ll learn:

  • A comms strategy for org-wide transparency.

  • The data and techniques behind Smart Brevity.

  • How our Axios HQ software can help you do both.


“We love the approach because it’s based on brain science. It helps us think about our writing differently — refining what should be there and omitting needless words.

We’ve totally changed our approach to content with help from the Axios team, and internally, we’re hearing a lot more people repeating our key messages.”

Susannah Wesley-Ahlschwede   →

Head of Global Internal Comms, Takeda


1. Stop being selfish

Focus on your audience. Prioritize what they need, rather than what you want to say. Cut anything non-essential. 


💡 Raise the bar on what readers need  →

2. Grab their attention

Pick the most important detail you want readers to remember. Sum it up in one sentence, then say it first — always.


💡 The art of an effective title or headline  →

3. Write like a human

The words you'd say over coffee are the ones you should write. It's way more engaging than jargon.


💡 The power of conversational writing  →

4. Keep it simple

Subject-verb-object. Tight sentences and muscular words help readers see your point more quickly.


💡 Find "What's new" and "Why it matters"  →

5. Stay scannable

Studies show short paragraphs, bolding and bullets help pull people in — and get them farther, faster.


💡 Cut read time and boost memory  →


6. Enough is enough

Use as few words as possible. The greatest gift that you can give to yourself — and others — is time.


💡 Radically rethink how we communicate  →

Go deeper on Smart Brevity

Learn more about the power of clear communication


Join our Smart Brevity open house

Join a Smart Brevity editor to learn more about the muscle behind our style — and a tool called Axios HQ that makes using it a lot easier.


5 comms strategies for stronger team culture

Leaders at Salesforce, Lyft, UPS and more explain the simplest, but most effective strategies they've used to level up workplace comms.


Every leader's top priority: stronger communications

You could have the smartest team, strongest strategy, endless capital — but you're still set up to fail without clear communication.


Learn Smart Brevity with Axios HQ

Ready for smart, clear internal comms? We’d love to talk to you.