One of my personal goals for 2012 is to communicate with clarity and brevity in both my verbal and written communication. My internal wiring motivates me to understand the world around me and translate that knowledge into tools that help other people. Unfortunately, the more I explore a given topic, the more difficult it is for me to synthesize the data in a way that is clear and brief. This creates a problem that is illustrated by the following saying.
A mist in the pulpit is a fog in the pew. If the communicator is not clear, the message has little hope of being understood.
If we take the time to gather, synthesize, and present our message, we owe it to ourselves to communicate it in a manner that stimulates maximum impact.
I set this goal for myself because I recognize my propensity to share information. This behavior is based on my assumption that more information equals better communication. This assumption was not even a conscious assumption, but one based upon how I am intrinsically motivated.
My education and experience afforded me ample opportunities to understand the importance of communicating with clarity and brevity, but that did not make it feel right. Therefore, I continually found myself communicating what felt right rather than what I knew to be most effective.
I learned the skill of communication from some of the best communicators in the business and recently have begun to review these lessons to better organize and present my thoughts.
Here are some basic tips that will help you communicate with clarity and brevity.
- Determine the subject or idea that you want to be communicated. This is known as the single theme, central idea, proposition, thesis statement, or main thought. By so doing, everything that follows is tied together to support your idea.
- Determine the complement that describes the subject. This helps the recipients know exactly what you are talking about.
- Consider supporting points if necessary. If your point requires persuasion, these points help argue your case. Guard against adding information that is not directly supportive of the main idea. This becomes confusing and invites the listener or reader to follow bunny trails.
- Determine the response you are seeking so the recipients understand how they are to respond. It is embarrassing to spend significant time communicating only to have the listener respond, “So, what exactly do you want?”
Therefore, a well-spoken or written message clearly communicates your point utilizing a single and comprehensible idea and a clear call to action with added support when persuasion is needed. My tendency is to begin with background information to help set the stage or context for my message. At times, I have added so much background information, I forgot my main point.
This past year I was delighted to meet Jeff Vankooten, an expert communicator and fellow IDA board member. I attended one of his communications workshops earlier this year. This training was most concise and helpful I have experienced. If you struggle to communicate, or manage someone who confuses everyone, I’d encourage you to check out his offerings.
Every audience, reader, and networker appreciates a good communicator. We owe the discipline of effective communication to those who entrust us with their attention.
What are some strategies you employ to effectively communicate your message?