Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Mastering Simplicity In Business Communication For Speedier Results

Simple doesn't mean simplistic.

So this year, champion this mantra for your company's vision, business strategy, or change initiative. Your influencing skills will be heightened once you take concrete steps to simplify everything.

Yes, in the past we used the veneer of complexity to illustrate our elite education or knowledge.

As professionals, we were advised that long, unusual-sounding words made us look smart, so we sprouted statements we scarcely understood.

Or we used foreign terms such as the je ne sais quoi to refer to the delightful, indefinable trait that someone had.

Or we complained that a colleague's laissez-faire attitude irked us because he wouldn't get involved in anything.

At the organisational level, business-speak and clichés became rife. Phrases such as 'leveraging resources for optimal effectiveness', 'riding the tide of favour', or 'chasing after the low hanging fruit' were silently approved. Moreover, companies often released long statements 'apologising' without actually saying they were sorry for anything; or to avoid culpability, they stated that certain unfortunate incidents were 'regrettable'.

Then while we were deliberating whether  'utilise' sounded more important than 'use', the information age emerged and with it came along social media.

Now, with the deluge of data, and easy access to the internet, we've become overwhelmed. Attention spans have dwindled and tempers have become shorter. Impatient investors, business partners, consumers and clients now demand simpler, quicker and clearer messaging in our oral and written communications.

Therefore, unless you make concrete efforts to ensure that you adhere to the three beacons of effective communication: simplicity, brevity and clarity, you won't get lasting results. Of the three beacons, simplicity opens the door to effective communication because it hastens comprehension.

You should simplify your business communications because:

1) Simple communication leads to quicker decisions

The easier it is for your audience to understand whatever you're championing, the quicker decisions are made.

A) For the professional:

Using simple language in your presentations, speeches and addresses demonstrates your knowledge and aids credibility.

As a result, members of your audience are likely to make up minds sooner rather than later. Even a barrage of questions or criticisms can work in your favour, if you're able to explain your viewpoint in a simple, engaging manner.

For your writing, realise that simple language is a byproduct of clear reasoning; therefore endeavour to understand the topic. From an uncluttered mind also comes the ability to convincingly express views in different ways.

B) For the company:

You can boost your corporate reputation with communication by using these tips.

Nevertheless, inside your organisation simple communication promotes employee engagement, which in turn, as research has revealed, leads to favourable outcomes such as increased productivity and higher levels of trust.

Externally, simple messaging via your website, with the media, (including social media), helps people quickly form opinions about issues they understand. Thus, they'll react to your communications in a timely manner. This development is useful for getting the 'pulse' of stakeholders so that your company knows what actions to take in specific scenarios.

Even a backlash from the public is a good lesson on what not to do in the future. Nothing is worse for any business than no engagement. You can't fix what you don't know is broken.

2) Simple communications win over more people

This is important when influence becomes a game of numbers.

For example, winning over a skeptical colleague with your simple argument is thrilling.

But more rewarding would be convincing your bosses to support your idea by highlighting simple reasons why your suggestion is beneficial.

The most impressive feat however, would be getting the board to approve a major change by the strength of your simple, declarative closing that swings opinions in your favour.

Moreover, when you break down a concept to its simplest form, people will conclude that you're knowledgeable about the subject matter. They'd thus be certain that you're the best person to handle the issue.

The numbers of 'converts' increase in the public arena. Committees, groups and even demographics are won over with simple communications.

In politics, simple messaging helps to win elections, especially when coupled with charisma. When you recall President Obama's 'Yes  We Can' campaign and President Trump's 'Make America Great Again' slogan, one perception becomes difficult to beat:

If it is simple, it is believable.

In corporateville, such a conviction could be manipulated for selfish ends by influential leaders, or by powerful organisations.

Nonetheless, realise that simple communication gains you advocates when paired with honesty.

And that's a powerful tool to have.

Tips for mastering simple communication

Despite its relevance in persuasive communication, simplicity is actually difficult to get right. Nevertheless, the tips below should help you to communicate more precisely:

I) Replace 'big’ or complex words with simpler versions

Use small words if nuances in meanings are negligible. So use 'stop' instead of 'desist'.

II) Write shorter sentences

Preferably, sentences should be no longer than 15-20 words when feasible. Note that the longer the sentence, the more likely that it would become confusing, especially if the required punctuation marks are absent.

III) Priortise the active voice

Yesterday, the new management approved the budget for the IT system upgrade in the company's outstations.

Instead of:

Yesterday, the budget for the IT system upgrade in the company's outstations was approved by the new management.

The first version is more direct and quicker to grasp.

IV) Edit and proofread thoroughly

Be mindful of your word choice, especially with synonyms (words that have similar meanings e.g. clever/sharp, big/burly etc.); and homophones (words that sound the same but have different meanings, e.g. peace/piece, discreet/discrete, etc.).

Bonus tip:

Remember the first rule for effective communication: always tailor your content to suit the needs of your audience/recipients.


So this year, master simple communication to get quicker results.

Note that the simpler your messaging—speeches, presentations, formal letters, business proposals etc.—the quicker decisions are made, and the more likely you are to win people over.

Armed with this knowledge, go fulfill your communication goals.

And now over to you: What advice can you give to communicate in a simple manner?

Kindly post your comments below.

If you enjoyed this post don't rush off just yet. Please remember to:

Ø Share this article in your social networks by clicking on the icons at the top or below.
ØSign up for updates in the blog's right sidebar so that you are immediately notified via email when a new blog post is published. Don’t miss any more articles!

Need help with improving your communication skills?

Hire me for:

v Communication training sessions for  your staff and executives;

v Writing assignments (content creation, executive speeches, etc.);

v Speeches and keynote presentations at your corporate events.

Let me help you get results.

Contact me:

A) Send an email to: Lucilleossai@gmail.com.

B) Call for a free consultation: 

Nigeria:           0704 631 0592
International: +234 704 631 0592  

N.B: First image is courtesy of Sira Anamwong, via freedigitalphotos.net. Second, third, fourth and fifth images are courtesy of Stuart Miles, via freedigitalphotos.net.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Adieu 2017...

And thank you for the lessons learnt and for the opportunities given.

This year began with renewed hopes that things would get better. Having survived 2016, I was optimistic that there would be interesting, albeit unforeseen opportunities to be celebrated. So l was quietly optimistic.

As the year prodded on, I settled into the predictable paces of my personal and professional lives.

And that was fine.

I continued to blog, even accepting, with calm resignation, the familiar anxiety that materialized towards the end of each month when another blog post would be due, and when I would have no idea about what to write. I nonetheless persevered.

I bided my time and believed that my discipline in posting high quality posts would pay off.

It did.

It only took some five-and-a-half years, thousands of hours of reading/researching, and painstakingly churning out 78 posts, to get recognition for this blog.

But the journey was worth it.

Recognition for the Rethinking Business Communications Blog in 2017

Recognition came when Anuj Agarwal, the founder of Feedspot  emailed me in September, informing me that my blog had been selected as one of the top 30 communication blogs on the web. He congratulated me and provided more information.

A sceptic by default, I was immediately suspicious of the email. After all, I hadn't submitted my blog on any site  for consideration of a ranking, neither was I aware of such an organisation.

Nevertheless, my curiosity was piqued so I clicked on the link provided. I browsed through the list, and when I recognised some highly respected communication blogs in the top spots, this blog's ranking became a big deal. I also realised that Feedspot was a legitimate RSS feed reader that was known in the field.

It became a bigger deal for me when I read that the selection criteria included Google reputation, Google search ranking and the quality of the articles. 

Next  came the realisation that the Rethinking Business Communications Blog was the only African blog to appear on that list.

I was stunned.

I was so elated and honoured that I shared the information in my networks.

Then just when I thought that the news couldn't get better, the prestigious Lagos Business School was informed of the award. They wrote a brief piece and posted it on their website. They also highlighted the award and my profile in their LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. Their support on social media was truly touching.

For more information about this award and the recognition it brought, check out the awards and recognition page.

The award—now conspicuously displayed on the homepage of this blog—serves as a reminder to me that hard work, discipline and passion pay off. It has also given this blog credibility, and this has gained me a new clientele.

Note that it took over five years for this blog's value in the field of business communication to be appreciated by independent evaluators. That notwithstanding, my commitment to providing consistent value to all readers, has been and will remain, unwavering.

I am truly grateful that the door of opportunity has been opened for me, and I believe that there would be more recognition for this blog in 2018.

So continue to watch this space.

Top Picks for 2017

In March every year when I celebrate the blog's anniversary, I list all the articles of the preceding year up until that point.

However, for all who may have missed some useful articles this year, below are my recommendations for the 2017 posts you should read. The tips they contain would be relevant to your careers.

1)  Career Advancement: Be the ‘Purple Cow’ 

Note how insights from Seth Godin’s bestselling book, ‘Purple Cow’, could help you advance your career by using the practical advice given.

2) An Open Letter To Management - From Working Mothers 

I am a working mother, so this post is somewhat personal.

Learn what makes these professional women tick for a more productive workplace.

3) Your Business Writing Skills - Where Do You Stand?

If this is the only article that you read this year about improving your business writing, then you would have covered all your bases.

In this article, I give away useful nuggets that are often only revealed in seminars or training sessions that I am paid to facilitate. This post thus provides undisputed value.


As I bid you adieu 2017, I remain appreciative of everything you taught me this year.

Indeed, I’m grateful for family, friends and good health.

To my blog readers and well-wishers: thank you for the support and loyalty.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a fun-filled, enjoyable New Year!

Adieu 2017!              

If you enjoyed this post, don't rush off just yet. Please remember to:

Ø Share this article in your social networks by clicking on the icons at the top or below.

Ø  Sign up for updates in the blog's right sidebar so that you are immediately notified via email when a new blog post is published. Don’t miss any more articles!

Need help with improving your communication skills?

Hire me for:

v  Communication training sessions for  your staff and executives;

v   Writing assignments (content creation, executive speeches, etc.);

v   Speeches and keynote presentations at your corporate events.

Let me help you get results.

Contact me:

A) Send an email to: Lucilleossai@gmail.com.

B) Call for a free consultation:

Nigeria:            0704 631 0592.
International:  +234 704 631 0592.


N.B:   First image is courtesy of Stuart Miles, via freedigitalphotos.net. Second image is courtesy of Jesadaphorn, via freedigitalphotos.net. Blog award is courtesy of Feedspot. Animation is courtesy of gifgifs.com.