October 4, 2010

Humble Lessons in Communication - Clear and Concise is always Nice

I was just beginning a new role as the Boys' Basketball Announcer at Concord and getting to know the ropes of how things happen at "the show" that is Boys' Basketball games. I was handed a paragraph to read that was supposed to communicate to fans that something was taking place. I looked it over and began to wonder when I would be able to use it because it looked like a 2 minute read. And that was without repeating any of the information! I was then handed another sheet that had two lines on the sheet and was telling of another, crucial event that was taking place somewhere at sometime in the school. I quickly knew that both events might be in trouble save for the fact that they were the only two announcements to be made during the JV game.

If there's one thing that I've learned over the short few years that I have studied Communication that has proven itself time and time again, it's the reality that simplicity can make or break the clarity of a message.

In some cases, simplicity can break the clarity of the message by not being clear and providing the needed information to understand why someone would want me to consider it. While being simple can lend itself to being less bog down, it can leave someone still asking many, important questions that could have easily been resolved if someone were to provide a bit more information. In a message by a preacher, for example, if someone doesn't receive the context of a passage and why the principle comes from that passage, they may not be able to connect the dots and move forward because of the message.

In other cases, the lack of simplicity breaks the message because it goes on and on and fails to communicate any new information for the person. This happens all the time when someone is not concise enough. That first read would never attract the most amount of people because a person heard me talking about the same event for 90 seconds or more. In a message, if I continue to talk about a pop-culture television show for 15 minutes and run out of time, I miss my opportunity to share something that is more important. The opportunity is gone because I have no more time or I have lost the attention of my audience.

The reality for me is simple, a clear concise message that is pointed and direct allows for the most effective communication. My goal should be two things: 1) New Content or 2) New Perspective. If I need to review a story, I should have a new wrinkle in the story or a new way of interpreting it. I have found the most effective communicators, in any venue, are able to lay out the content and then offer a couple perspectives on the topic without restating the content in its original form.

Recently, in my preaching, I have been trying to hit one main principle that communicates the truth that I am sharing. If I can find other sub-principles that help support that main principle, I will use up to three. If I need to go over three, then I need to use a note sheet and do a better job of laying out all of the content. In the end, I am more clear and concise because I push myself to be more and more simplistic with the simple truths that line the life of Jesus.

No comments: