- Next trainer development cohort 10th - 14th June 2024

Crinoline comms lessons from the Victorians

25th May, 2023

Crinoline comms lessons from the Victorians

Where I live in North London, rows and rows of terraced Victorian houses line the streets.


We all live cheek by jowl as a (mostly) happy community.


Some of the houses are a quite grand, with Pinterest-worthy facades and imposing double front doors like this:



I learnt recently this fascinating fact: the doors were made this wide because they had to fit ladies’ ginormous crinolines through them.


However, once inside the house, those huge skirts wreaked havoc – knocking over side tables and catching fire as they brushed up against naked candles!


And this really made me think (as well as feeling grateful I live in a time of elasticated waistbands and jogging bottoms).


Because making a wider door is rarely the best answer, however elegant a solution it might seem at first glance.


The better answer is often to make the skirt smaller.  Especially in communication.


We rarely need more slides.  Longer emails. More appendices on our proposals.


We just need to take a little more time to make our communication pithier.


Because the wider door approach (a.k.a. longer comms) always lead to problems down the line (turning off your audience).


I’m doing a keynote speech in a couple of weeks where I can only use 5 slides.  And boy, is my talk better for it.


After all, no-one ever complained an email was too short, now have they?

University of Cambridge


- Next trainer development cohort 10th - 14th June 2024

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