Effective communication - The importance of simplicity

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"Complexity is your enemy. Any fool can make something complicated. It is hard to make something simple." - Sir Richard Branson

The primary aim of the communication process is to ensure that everyone involved reaches a shared understanding of what has been communicated. In order to help do that, we need to communicate in a way that is simple and easy for others to understand.

Benefits of simplicity

  • Something simple is easier to learn and remember
    When we complicate our messages, people's brains have to work hard to understand us. This takes up valuable processing power and leaves less power for committing things to memory. People might understand you, but they'll probably forget most of it. When things are simple, they are easier to learn and remember.
  • Simplicity focuses your message
    When your messages are filled with unnecessary information, it dilutes your message and takes attention away from your key points. When your message is simple, is focuses attention on the important stuff.
  • Simplicity saves time
    Time is precious, so why say something in 100 words when you can say it in 10? When you keep your messages simple you can get to the point quickly and save time.
  • Simplicity is inclusive
    When messages are communicated simply, it means that they can be understood by a much broader audience. People don't need a degree, a dictionary, or to know special lingo (e.g. acronyms and business jargon) to understand your message.

Helpful tips

Here are 3 simple tips to ensure that your communication is simple and easy to understand. These tips are equally relevant in any communication scenario, whether you are delegating tasks to your team members, having a meeting or delivering a presentation.

  1. Use plain, simple language. Avoid acronyms, business jargon and overly complex words.
  2. Don't communicate too much information at any one time. Try to limit it to 3-4 key points/instructions or you risk information overload and people will be less likely to remember it.
  3. Keep your communication to the point. Less is more. Don't drown out your key points/instructions with unnecessary information.

Learn more

Next: Effective communication - Listening and ensuring understanding