May 2012: Make the complex simple.

Effective leaders are master translators.  They know how to distill complex issues and strategies into simple terms that can be understood and acted upon by people at all levels inside and outside the organization. 

Too often, leaders fall into the trap of using jargon, acronyms, buzzwords or technical language that their audiences do not understand.  Sometimes this is a sign that the leader is out of touch; unaware that not everyone is as steeped in “insider language” as they are.  Other times, a leader will hide behind acronyms and jargon simply because they don’t understand the underlying concepts well enough to use plain language.  Finally, they may fear that by simplifying, they won’t sound smart or sophisticated enough. 

Remember that effective communication is not characterized by jargon and complexity.  It is measured by how quickly and accurately the audience understands, retains and is motivated by the message. 

Today, take a look at your communication with a fresh eye.  How can you make your messages easier to understand by those you’re trying to inform, influence and move to act?