2012-03-22 feedback

ICYMI: The Value of Conveying Complex Ideas in Simple Terms

Still good advice: a blog post by Mark Haas from the August 21, 2012, issue of the Chronicle of Philanthropy reminds us:

Complex problems may require complex solutions. But no matter how complicated the issue, nonprofit consultants need to find a way to discuss both the problems and the solutions in simple, concise language. Good communication means making sure your message is accurately received, not just that you sent it.

It’s far too easy to hide behind jargon or consultant-speak or to expound on management theories that clients aren’t familiar with. We use jargon because it’s easy. It’s a shortcut. It’s much harder to explain something in a way you know people will understand—not just the words but also their implications—and to do it using as few words as possible. If that’s too much of a challenge, it might be a sign you don’t fully grasp the issue yourself.

Albert Einstein once said that if you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well enough.

Read the full article “The Value of Conveying Complex Ideas in Simple Terms” »

In the same vein, “Who Needs Words?” (Nonprofit Times, 6/12/2012)

Whomever best describes the problem is the one most likely to solve it, and whomever draws the best picture gets the funding. That’s the way serial doodler Dan Roam sees it.

The author of  Blah Blah Blah: What To Do When Words Don’t Work and The Back of the Napkin was the plenary speaker for the Nonprofit Technology Network’s (NTEN) annual Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) held recently in San Francisco, Calif.

“We can solve our problems with pictures, clarify our ideas,” said Roam. You don’t have to be a meticulous artist or use a complicated computer program to generate an image — as long as you get your point across. As far as Roam sees it, if you can draw a stick figure, you can draw. It’s more a matter of getting your point across than creating a masterpiece. “Can we be more compelling by saying less,” asked Roam. More than half of the human brain is built around processing vision but people are more often focused on learning syntax and grammar.

Read the full article “Who Needs Words?” »


What steps have you taken to make your communication clearer and more concise? Do you still have trouble explaining a complex idea in simple terms?

How are you simplifying communications? What’s your biggest pet peeve about complex communications?



*ICYMI=In case you missed it, a term we use to draw attention to an older but still relevant and important blog post or article.