Less is more

. 1 min read

What makes separates extraordinary from the merely great? What they leave out.

I asked one of the most extraordinary lecturers I know. He lectures first year algebra and calculus, which is another way of saying he teaches tired and distracted 18 year olds the most boring stuff on Earth.

This lecturer is consistently rated as one of the best in the university. He’s even got a massive fan club on Facebook.

How does someone who teaches algebra and calculus have a fan club??!

One of his secrets is, less is more.

His lecture notes are extremely short. At first glance, it seems like less than 10% of the words you’d expect to see. There are only a few key theorems, printed in a small box on the first page of each lecture.

Instead of 80 slides of commentary, he carefully chooses questions that unravel and explain the concept to you intuitively. Students are much more likely to retain concepts when they “discover” it for themselves, rather than rote learning a wall of text.

I shouldn’t have been so surprised. The best comedians know that less is more.

Making jokes isn’t difficult. If you want to be funnier than all of your friends, you only need to complete one comedy class. Whether it’s stand-up, improv, sketch, or something else - you’ll quickly learn enough of the secret rules of comedy to consistently make good jokes.

After taking one comedy class, you might start making comedy friends… and you start taking more and more comedy classes to try and be funnier than your new friends. It’s a comedy arms race.

Beginner and intermediate comedians think that being funny is telling the most jokes. Expert comedians know that being funny is sum of all the jokes you didn’t say.

Less is more.

Photo by Roman Mager on Unsplash.