Ever listen to one of those call-in shows on the radio, where the host interviews guests and takes calls from listeners?
Next time you do, notice how people who are experienced at being interviewed--politicians, celebrities, book authors, activists--tend to be very good at answering questions by delivering a single, focused message. (They may be so effective at getting their message across, in fact, that they don't actually answer what's being asked, but riff off the question to suit their needs.)
In any case, by the end of the interview, these experienced communicators have gotten their point across, whether that point is "vote for me," "buy my book" or "pay attention to this issue."
By contrast, it's likely that at least some of the callers are ramblers. They start on one topic, meander over to another, and finish somewhere else entirely. Some seem to be so thrilled to be on the radio, that they can't seem to get over their excitement enough to find a focus. One sentence ellipses into another, in a kind of free-flowing fugue. And, in the end, you wonder what they actually meant.
Whether you're communicating on the radio, through email, or using any other method, you may suffer from the same problem as those callers. In your zeal to include everything you want to convey, you may end up with a muddled mess.
Take a colleague of mine named Steve. He started a new company and was eager to create marketing collateral for potential customers. But he immediately got tripped up because "I felt that there were so many things I wanted to say. I had so much to offer. There was so much I could do for customers."
As a result, Steve found himself creating promotional content that was all over the map. Luckily, a friend who was a marketing expert intervened. Says Steve: "My friend gave me some much-needed tough love. His advice? Prospective customers can't absorb 23 different things about what you do--they need to know the one or possibly two things you're all about."
And that's where the sacrifice comes in. You have to forgo dozens (or even hundreds) of interesting pieces of information to convey your essential message. Unless you have a laser-sharp focus, you're in danger of not delivering your point.
It's just this simple: Decide on a single high concept for your communication, and then put all your energy into getting that message across.