Why even complicated messages are always simple

Do you ever fall into that really obvious, hugely gaping elephant trap? The one where you’re presenting or explaining something to someone and those readily available, deadly words slip out: “It’s a bit complicated”.

Because your audience will take their lead from you. If you believe it’s complicated (which, of course, implies that it’s difficult to understand and, possibly, not worth their valuable time), then who are they to argue with you, the expert?

You’re leading your audience in the wrong direction

Effectively what you’ve done is tell them that they won’t understand. Rather than you work out the wrinkles, the structure, the key points, the easy to follow narrative story, you’ve asked them to do the donkey work.

Of course, you might be lucky: you could be talking to one of the very few people who LOVE complications, whose soul soars at the chance to untangle the big issues from the details, the main theme from the variations. But more usually, you’ll watch the shutters drop over your audience’s eyes as they settle down for some enriching interior monologue time.

How to communicate with clarity

The solution is – naturally – not complicated. You just need to have untangled the knitting before you presented them with the cat’s cradle of the problem. Unravel the different bits of what you want them to remember and they’ll stick in their memories.

So how do you do this? Well, you can break down all the different points by numbers, for example: “There are five main points…”. So they always know how far along the journey they’ve travelled with you. You can order the different parts for them, for instance: “The central idea is this etc…”

Then, once they’re happy with the main idea, you introduce your wrinkly points or counter-arguments, for example: “However, some people consider this misses a key area of the data. They’d claim…” That sort of thing.

The benefits of clarity

And, of course, it’s not just your audience that benefits; it’s a great way for you to get straight what you think and feel about an issue.

About the author of this article

This article was written by Simon, one of Skillstudio’s consultant trainers. 

Simon is based in London and has designed and runs our in-company Persuasive Writing and Powerful Storytelling workshops. 

As well as being an experienced trainer and role-player Simon is an accomplished actor, writer and theatre director. He has worked as a writer, designer and film director for a range of large companies and organizations.

Simon has a MA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Oxford University. He has a wide range of writing experience, in both the commercial sector, as well as for television, film and radio.

You can read more about Simon here.

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