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When "Overwhelment" is Your Biggest Competitor

Apparently "overwhelment" is not a noun -- but I wish it were!  What would you call that state were someone gets so crazy-busy they cannot even do the basic things to help themselves?

Let me explain.  Earlier this year I lost a sizeable piece of business because my DMO client was so busy, so overwhelmed with work and personal commitments, that she could not spare 5 minutes to read and sign our contract.  The project was time-sensitive and by the time her to-do list became manageable, the opportunity was lost.

My colleague Meagan experienced a similar situation; because of workload, her association client took five months to approve work that should have taken place last June.  Now we're in September, the event is next month, and we have to rush to get the project done.

Sound familiar?  Executives on the planning and supply side are so crazy-busy they cannot find the time to read a contract so they can get help!

It's easy to get frustrated, but perhaps it's an opportunity to improve?

For one thing, it made me realize that our proposals and contracts were too long; we needed to find a way to make our clients' lives easier.  Our 3-4 page contract is now a one-pager, with a standard set of terms and conditions.

And thanks to my good friend Jeremy Tyrrell of the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls, I've also learned of the "5 sentences movement." I received an email from him this week and his signature:

Q: Why is this email five sentences or less?

When you click through to the site, it explains:

The Problem

E-mail takes too long to respond to, resulting in continuous inbox overflow for those who receive a lot of it.

The Solution

Treat all email responses like SMS text messages, using a set number of letters per response. Since it’s too hard to count letters, we count sentences instead. is a personal policy that all email responses regardless of recipient or subject will be five sentences or less. It’s that simple.

* See also:,, and

Isn't that brilliant?  Now if we could only do something about the volume of emails...

What are you doing to manage the avalanche of information coming your way?  And what are you doing to make your customers' lives easier?