How Simplicity Can Dramatically Enhance Your Communication Skills
If you want to be heard, subtract.
In today's world, within a split second, we instantly get overloaded by information. Google a couple of words, and you will get pages after pages of data. When too many pieces of information fight each other to grab our attention simultaneously, we get tired. Sometimes, we get exhausted too much that we wind up ignoring all of them.
Think of it this way: Every communication is a form of selling. If you want to convey a particular piece of information to someone, you are selling that information to them to successfully grasp it. If you want to convince your audience to change their thoughts, emotions, behaviour, action, etc, you are selling your argument to ignite such a desired transformation in them. No matter how crafted your speech is, if you fail to sell your point to your audience, your communication only becomes a bungle.
Communication is a sophisticated art. Mastering compelling communication takes serious commitment and investment. In this article, we would like to make one suggestion that we believe is highly practical and versatile. Practicing this regularly, we are confident that not only your communication skills but also your overall productivity will improve.
What Michelangelo Saw from a Block of Abandoned Marble
Even if you are not an art enthusiast, you should still know Michelangelo. This brilliant Italian Renaissance polymath genius is arguably one of the best artists who ever lived. Michelangelo is especially well known as the creator of the iconic Pieta and David sculptures, and the paintings of the Sistine Chapel.
'David' sculpture is a 14.0 ft marble statue depicting the Biblical hero David. This statue, symbolizing independence and strength in the perfect image of youthful beauty with top-of-the-line delicate precision, is one of the most famous sculptures in history which welcomes more than one million viewers around the globe each year.
Shortly after David came to life, Michelangelo was asked about the challenges he must have encountered in creating this masterpiece. His response was simple yet strikingly thought-provoking: "It is easy. You just chip away the stone that doesn’t look like David."
For Michelangelo, carving equates to setting the object trapped in the marble free. When he could see an object from a big chunk of marble, he regarded it as his job to carve it out. Because Michelangelo had a very clear image to deliver in his head, it was uncomplicated for him to remove what is not essential.
How Winston Churchill Could Flip the Atmosphere within 5 Minutes
Winston Churchill served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice during the Second World War. His charismatic leadership traits enabled him to adopt a vision and persevere through challenging times.
Behind Churchill's effective leadership were his exceptional communication skills. There is an anecdote reported by a veteran who was part of the famous Normandy landings operation.
Before the group of young soldiers marched over the English Channel to France, they were all scared to death. Then, in a little Jeep arrived Winson Churchill. Shortly after his arrival, Churchill gave a 5-minute speech to these petrified soldiers. After this speech, boys who were looking for their mamas were long gone. Standing on the ground were only strong men who were ready to charge hell on their enemy's territory.
When asked about what made this 5-minute speech extremely successful, reporters pointed out several principles Churchill kept practicing not just this time around but every time he had to speak before a crowd. Among them was that Churchill, in every speech, was always persistent to stick to only one theme at a time. He ruthlessly edited, clarified, and most importantly, simplified his speech to ensure the listeners will follow him with ease.
Steve Jobs: 100 Exclusive Members and One Goal
Steve Jobs who is widely regarded as one of the most iconic entrepreneurs in history also understood the momentous power of simplicity.
Every year, Jobs held a meeting with the top 100 most influential employees. These employees were handpicked by Jobs, by asking himself "Who are the 100 people I want to take with me on a lifeboat if I was to cross the ocean and start a new company?".
In this meeting, Jobs with this exclusive group brainstormed together to write a number of ideas on a huge whiteboard on what they need to pursue next year. Then Jobs started erasing ideas that were either redundant or unfitting. The group kept reducing the list until they reached the top 3 which all of them unilaterally agreed. These three then became the goals for the company to meet the following year. Instead of going for a number of goals at the same time, Jobs made sure the company would invest in the selected few only.
The Secret Ingredient: Simplicity
Based on what would you evaluate one's communication skills? How much trained or prepared the speaker is? How eloquent the speech is written? Whether the content is relevant and engaging? All these factors matter. However, let's not forget that the ultimate goal of any communication is successfully delivering the desired information to the audience and also eliciting proper change in their thoughts, action, behaviour, etc. If this goal is not met, no matter how professional the speaker and how exquisite the speech may be, that communication is ultimately in vain.
The best way to accelerate one's growth is by skipping unnecessary blunders. And this can be done by leveraging the principles of revered great men.
Michelangelo, Winston Churchill, and Steve Jobs are only a few of many who mastered and strenuously utilized the principle of simplicity. While this rule can be extremely beneficial in increasing your overall productivity as well as distinctiveness (ie. Michelangelo), in this article, we would like to present you with two takeaway points to strengthen your communication skills with it.
Why communication skills? Because it is what we practice every day. If you are in a senior role at your company, it is your responsibility to effectively communicate the vision you/the company has with the employees under your influence.
If you are not in a position that leads the group forefront, having strong communication skills is nonetheless vital. From talking to colleagues, emailing clients, and negotiating with contractors to pitching ideas to superiors, communication is indispensable.
Simplify the message: Get to the core of your message and your mission. Don't fall into the temptation to address several points at once. Distinguish what is essential and eliminate all that is not.
Simplify the action: Reduce and simplify the action as much as possible. Change in nature is hard for anyone, no matter how positive it is. You can ease up the process and encourage others to follow through by simplifying the action step.