On clarity


“Mies-ian: Less is more… more or less” by janmikeuy on Flickr

Want to stand out in today’s communication environment? The secret is clarity.

What’s clarity? It’s written communication that is as concise as can be without omitting critical details. It’s verbal communication that avoids jargon and business bullspeak. (Clarity does not seek to impress.) Clarity requires the confidence to know that the goal is a conversation the audience is eager to continue later, not to tell the whole story all at once (which is only likely to scare the audience away).

Clarity is ending your presentation five minutes early, knowing you’ll have to leave something out…which you’d have to do anyway, even if you were to go over by ten minutes.

Clarity is an email that includes nothing more than the word “yes” (or “no”) when nothing else is needed. (Brevity isn’t rude; brevity is actually a gift to the recipient.)

Clarity is proper use of punctuation. (Punctuation sounds incidental, but it’s critical.)

Clarity is typing “I need it by 5 p.m. on Monday, please” instead of “the timeline is expedited, but not present*”

Clarity is what your audience wants–what today’s audience is desperate for. Say more by saying less. Don’t leave anything out, of course, but by all means don’t add words for the sake of adding words. Getting your audience to pay attention to you is hard enough. Don’t make it any harder.

*An actual quote from an email I received a couple years ago. Statements that are unclear can be memorable, but not always in a good way.
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4 Responses to On clarity

  1. Andy Welfle says:

    So glad to read this, especially on the heels of this wonderful piece by the Ad Contrarian.

    • ajjuliano says:

      Thanks for pointing me to the Ad Contrarian piece. I’m thinking of using it as a conversation starter at my next YLNI Leadership Institute session.

      • Andy Welfle says:

        Awesome! I definitely think this fits in to your spiel about how the timeline is expedited, but not present. And it’s just ranty enough to capture the attention of young whippersnappers. (:

  2. Tammy Davis says:

    Amen, amen, and AMEN. We all could fill volumes with bad examples from our everyday lives. Speak less; say more.

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