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.





Conclusion






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.



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Let me help you get results.





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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.

6 comments:

  1. N. Wright (via Corporate Communications Network)25 January 2018 at 13:32

    Excellent post on the need to write clearly and concisely in business.

    Unfortunately, only about 2 per cent of business and government documents are in this plain English style. I recommend everyone downloads the free trial of our plain English editing software - StyleWriter4, and use it to test the clarity and readability of their documents. It will show you if you are a clear writer and how to cut the bad habits that have crept into your writing style.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Checked it out. It looks like a good resource.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Jon Bye (via Corporate Communications Network group on LinkedIn)29 January 2018 at 23:21

    Great approach and one that I have followed for many years. Everyone should have a read.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for reading, Jon. Indeed simplicity makes our writing more powerful.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It's a shame you don't have a donate button! I'd definitely donate to this fantastic blog! I guess for now i'll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to new updates and will share this website with my Facebook group. Talk soon! home business ideas

    ReplyDelete
  6. What kind words!

    I'm glad you found this post useful. You could read about the other beacons - brevity (conciseness) and clarity in separate articles also on this blog.

    As for the donate button. Hmm. The exclusive content available for free on this blog might not be free for long...

    Thanks for offering to share in your networks!

    Hope you come back soon.

    Cheers!

    ReplyDelete

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