Cut the small print

We received a contract for a new piece of work recently. This wouldn't normally be worth remarking on, but this contract was special. It was different. It was 52 pages long.

It was so comically long that the contracts analyst at the company that sent it to me actually called me up before sending it to say, "The contract is comically long. It's just standard procedure. Sorry." Because it's so long, it's effectively all small print — if there's anything important in there, I'm unlikely to see it. The document bullies me into submission. I give in.

Unfortunately, this is a familiar story. Some (mostly non-lawyers) like Alan Siegel are trying to change it:

Before we all laugh derisively at lawyers, wait a second. Are you sure that everyone reads every word in your reports and emails? Do they look at every slide in your presentations? Do they listen to every word in your talks? 

If you suspect they don't, ask yourself why not. And then cut. Cut until all that's left is what matters. If there's other important stuff — exceptions, examples, footnotes, small print, legal jargon — move it somewhere and give people a link.