The smartest, most creative people I know are those who can communicate a complex concept in simple, everyday terms. As Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
Meandering, pompous words are often strung together to mask a person’s ignorance. How refreshing, though, when crisp words are used in succinct sentences to convey the depth of a person’s understanding!
You cannot have clarity without brevity. Practice subtraction. Next time you’re struggling to articulate a difficult message, try tweeting it. I love the discipline of Twitter that requires us to distill ideas into 140 characters or less.
Think about these examples where important ideas are best expressed in a simple way:
- If you’re looking for a job, see if your mom understands what you’re saying in your resume and cover letter. If she doesn’t, odds are a prospective employer won’t either.
- If you’re trying to revitalize your job description, explain to your child what you do for a living. In a simple conversation, can you describe how your job benefits society?
- If you’re a graduate student, explain your research findings to your uncle at a family get-together. If he doesn’t understand what you’re saying, it’s likely others will not.
- If you’re a company spokesperson, can you explain the benefits of a corporate policy to a complete stranger? If you can’t, then don’t try doing so in a TV sound bite.
Always remember that simple and simplistic are not synonyms. Simplistic ideas represent shallow thinking. Simple ideas, on the other hand, have had the dross burned off so that only the pure, essential elements remain.
Simple is best, don’t you think?