Simplicity is as easy as ABC
So that would be S=ABC right?
Read on to find out about the other ABC that makes Sarah’s formula extra special!
Are you ever in a position where you need to present an idea? Do you want your audience to listen to your message, understand it, and then take action? If so, you need a simple message combining accuracy, brevity and clarity. This is true whether you are creating a pitch to potential clients, a blog post, marketing material or your 40-second introduction (your elevator pitch).
As a lawyer and maths graduate, I learnt a great deal about accuracy and clarity, as both subjects are founded on these attributes. Lawyers are not, on the other hand, known for their brevity – possibly because we were once paid by the inch! Indeed, many lawyers follow the motto “why use one word when three will do?”
You don’t need to be a lawyer to over-complicate your message. Anyone can do it!
You could blame your wordiness on your ancestors (like I just did). In earlier times, your professional status was created and maintained by the breadth and depth of your knowledge or experience. But in this Information Age, when Google contains all the knowledge you need (and some you don’t), quantity no longer rules. We need a new paradigm: The world famous physicist Brian Cox used simplicity as one of the cornerstones of his huge appeal to his audience of non-scientists. Making the complex simple takes time and creates credibility.
Credibility is not enough for your audience. They are part of the ‘WIIFM generation’ who want to know why they should listen. Your audience are drowning in advice, guides, and tips. You need to signpost their next steps or they will forget you and your message as soon as they get busy again (5 seconds…). Simplicity improves the chance that your audience will take action.
In the age of global instant communication and marketing, you may want your messages and your business to appeal to the widest global audience. If that’s the case, you are aiming to be vanilla, rather than Marmite.
But even a simple credible message still needs to stand out. Some initially reviled products and ideas became best-sellers and game-changers: Parisians hated the Eiffel Tower 100 years ago, the Beatles and JK Rowling were rejected many times before their respective success, and the first tablet computer flopped. Simplicity enables you to be bold.
When you create a message with accuracy, brevity and clarity at its core, then you become more credible, embrace boldness and persuade your audience to take action.
So (S)implicity means (=) (A)ccuracy (B)revity and (C)larity which produces (A)ction (B)oldness and (C)redibility and that’s why the formula is S=ABC2.
1. When have your heard a message which was simple, brief and clear; and did it persuade you do to do something afterwards?
2. Which ‘experts’ do you struggle to listen to, and why?
3. Einstein said that if you couldn’t explain your idea to a 6 year old, you didn’t understand it well enough. Do you think that’s true and if so, how would it change your messages?
Sarah Fox is the Author of the 500-Word Contract, her challenge to the construction industry to be accurate, brief and clear. As a trainer on construction contracts, she knew that the industry did not read, understand or use the long and complex standards form contracts which are ubiquitous for UK projects.