I Spell Communication with Five Cs
It should go without saying that communication is critical in every aspect of our lives, and the ability to communicate well can make a huge difference to us and our ability to get things done and achieve our goals.
I have a simple formula to guide communication that consists of five Cs:
Clear: It is vitally important that your audience understand what you are saying. Sometimes ideas are hard to get across and it is worthwhile looking for just the right vocabulary, phrases, and analogies to help bring your ideas, concerns, and questions to life. You want to make sure that people can easily grasp what you are saying and that your message is not left open to varying interpretations.
Concise: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” (Leonardo da Vinci) . People have a much easier time engaging with your communications if they are simple and as short as possible. Practice the Art of the Minimum. English is a wonderfully rich language filled with many near-synonyms that have nuances of meaning. It is worth using them to get ideas across with fewer words. I readily admit I can get a bit-long winded verbally, especially when I am excited about the topic, but in written media I have the opportunity to edit and cut out much of what I say, paring my communication down to its essentials. When speaking, it is important to listen to yourself and reign yourself in if you start rambling.
Credible: People engage with your communication if they believe you know what you are talking about. It is critical to establish your credibility on a topic, even if just lightly, by way of your own experiences, education, leveraging other credible sources, etc. The way in which you present the idea should also feel intuitive to your listeners. If your message makes sense to them, it will carry more credibility. Sometimes we have to present non-intuitive things. In those cases, a shift of perspective may make the idea feel more intuitive and produce an “ah-ha” moment for your audience.
Consistent: Your message may well evolve over time, based on a changing world or your changing understanding of the world, but for the most part your message should be consistent. You can easily lose your credibility by changing your story, and people will not absorb a message that shifts.
Compelling: Compelling is a broad term. By it, I mean the ability to grab your audience’s attention, to get them nodding in agreement with your line of reasoning (even if they ultimately disagree with your thesis), to give them an experience with your communication that leaves a lasting and memorable impression on them, that may motivate them to follow through on your call to action.
I didn’t include Copious in the list because it in not always relevant and can at times be a negative. You certainly want to communicate Completely and people absorb a message better when delivered with Constancy, but too much communication, including unnecessarily detailed or repetitive communication, can turn people off, bore them, overwhelm them, annoy them, or otherwise cause them to tune you out. So find that right balance of volume of communication. It’s an art.
One might sum all of these up as Crisp.