Your Voice

The art of good communication in one word: simplicity

Simplicity and understandability are critical to get your message across

The art of good communication in one word: simplicity

Logical, sequential, precise, to-the-point and flowing; these are the classic standards we all need to learn to communicate effectively at work. 


American television journalist Tim Russert was a famous communicator. During NBC’s coverage of the 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore, Russert became the talk of the town due to his simple way of explaining the U.S. electoral process. During the night of the election, he got a whiteboard and indicated by adding electoral votes in each state that whoever wins Florida, will win the election. No “handi-dandi,” complex, multicolor graphics and charts. No metaphor. No long interview and advice from political pundits. All he did was follow his dad’s advice, “Stay simple and understandable son — simplicity is the key to convey your message.”


Good communication can have many dimensions, rules, and standards, but simplicity and “understandability” are always the most important traits.


Simple and understandable


The best communication is always simple and straightforward, accounting for an audience and its capability to understand a message. The message for technicians will be different than that for engineers, and the message for managers will be different than for executives. We often hear executives say, “Please, no technicality, only explain in layman’s language,” while engineers would like to get the complete technical picture. Technicians, meanwhile, are more interested in following the procedures for maintenance or troubleshooting.


Precise and to-the-point


So, for communication surrounding the repair of a critical piece of equipment, for example, an executive is waiting for the message, “The plant is back in operation and the team is available for continuous monitoring.” It is not appropriate to elaborate who did what, or how many hours were utilized, or which parts were replaced. 

These details can be shared with engineers and supervisors to discover the cause of the failure and improve processes. The manager is looking for cost and delivery detail. Explaining the process would be a moot point.


Sequence and flow


In any report or presentation, the chronological order or flow of information is as important as the contents. Unless this information is tucked in sequentially, the report will not make sense. It would, instead, create confusion. 


Communication means staying simple while understanding your audience and being straightforward, precise, logical, and sequential. You have now learned the art of communication in the workplace.


As British writer C.S. Lewis said, “Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say ‘infinitely’ when you mean ‘very’; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.” 












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