Why being simple is best

I don’t know about you, but I really like quotes. I know that they can be overused these days, but a good quote gets a powerful message, presentation idea or concept to hit home quickly. Typically, quotes come from a person who has a degree of knowledge or expertise for the subject in hand. Sometimes quotes come from people in related worlds; in other words, they may have expertise in a different field of endeavour but that field shares a common issue or series of challenges related to your message. Either way a bit of pithy wisdom can be a highly effective form of communication.

Perhaps my favourite quote, and one I use all the time, is by George Bernard Shaw – ‘The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place’ It really sums up how difficult effective communication is and opens up lots of discussion about what it means, and why and how it happens etc. The search for really good quotes is a constant one, and I have found another that I imagine will be in constant use. You could make a good case for it being a motto for life, but I think I will use it most of the time when helping people with their presentations.

Here it is.

Simple is best

Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity

Charles Mingus – Jazz Bassist

So many people in the business world still batter their audiences senseless with an array of facts and data and complex graphs and charts. Somehow, we have bought into the mindset that the more complicated we can make it, the more professional we will look. Unfortunately, we forget that people are emotional beings and make all decisions on an emotional basis. Of course, we use data and facts to inform our decision making process, and certainly we will use data and facts to justify the decisions made, but emotion is really the driver and we are far more likely to respond to information that has made an emotional connection. When you are thinking of making a decision – perhaps changing your car or moving house, the chances are you start researching your subject to get the necessary facts and data to help your decision. It is also likely that you will talk to family and friends and seek out people who have knowledge or experience of the subject. The key issue is this: if the stories from people and the data contradict each other, which will you go by? I suspect emotion trumps data everytime.

As a presenter, you will probably only present a very small percentage of the data you have available (maybe 2% to 5%). What you will do is focus your audience attention on the one or two key facts that will make your case, and then comes the creative part. Find a simple way to make those points that make an emotional connection and resonates with something your audience understands. This is what great presenters and public speakers do.

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