“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”
E. F. Schumacher
Today’s quote reminds me of a post from a few weeks ago that you can find here.
The burden of communication is on the one who is communicating, not the person who is to receive the message. Great communicators find ways to make the message simple, to reduce complexity, to convey only what matters to the story they are telling. If someone insists on making it complicated, it is more about themselves than the person they are trying to communicate with. This isn’t to say that there aren’t incredibly intricate things that must to be conveyed but the ability to do so will be completely dependent on one’s ability to simplify the information. Having all the data and information in the world won’t help if you can’t convey it in a meaningful fashion.
Here are a just a few questions and tips to consider when you are working to simplify the complicated:
- What is the story I am trying to tell?
- What is the single most important thing I need the other person to understand?
- How can I make this simpler? How can I make this simpler? How can I make this simpler? (Yes, I repeated that three times, it is the continual asking of this question that allows one to distill down to the essence of what matters.)
- What are the questions that I want to be asked?
- Why does this matter to my audience? If there is a single word or thought that doesn’t matter can I kill it?
There are a million great questions and ways to further refine the complex but it starts with a deep desire to communicate clearly and cleanly with the focus on the audience and what they need to understand, not what you need to convey. Otherwise, you run the risk of being labeled an intelligent fool…