Four steps to simplify the complex

23 February 2021

By Chrissie Davis

Four steps to simplify the complex

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Let’s be honest, the information we’re expected to get our heads around at work isn’t always the easiest to understand. 

Whether it’s share plan features or new compliance requirements, everyone gets stuck from time to time – whether that’s knowing how to best communicate a message or comprehend it. 

And as our latest LinkedIn poll showed – over and above budget constraints, reaching remote workers and lack of time – 58% of responses said simplifying the complex was their greatest challenge in 2021.

So, what can you do to help your audience demystify the confusing terms and stats they’re faced with every day?

If you follow Eximia’s four-step approach, you’ll be on your way to communicating like a pro. 

 

Start with your objective

To simplify the complex, simplify the question first.

Trying to get across lots of important information straight away is an easy mistake to make.

Take a step back and ask yourself: “What is my main objective? What is the essential takeaway I want my audience to be left with?”

By doing this, it will help declutter your thought process and focus on the key message. 

 

Be an ice sculptor

Think of any first draft as a block of ice. 

Once you’ve pulled it together and checked to make sure it’s accurate, now there are two more questions you need to ask: “How simple can I make this and how simple does it have to be?”

What you need to do now is chisel away the excess, the technical terms, the padding, the five words where one will do… and start sculpting something people will want to engage with. 

Of course, you need to know when to stop, so make sure you don’t lose too much information, leaving your content meaningless. Put yourselves in your readers’ shoes and this will help you judge when to stop. Remember, you can always split your message over time and across multiple mediums. 

 

Ask your audience 

Achieving simplicity requires you to take this second draft and test it with a diverse sample audience. 

The secret is not to send it to people who closely resemble both your role and mindset, as they may have the same blind spots as you.

Diversity is key. The more varied eyes you get on your message, the better chance you have of picking up on needless technical terms, jargon and confusing explanations that will leave people scratching their heads. 

 

Make it visual 

‘A picture paints a thousand words’ is an old saying – and true in most cases.

A carefully crafted email is a strong start, but trying to explain a complicated process, procedure or calculation can be tough with words alone. 

That’s why it can help to turn written messages into infographics or videos, helping you show people rather than tell them.

Visuals are powerful tools when looking to cut through the noise. Your audience is often overwhelmed with a deluge of daily content; and as Eximia has discovered in countless campaigns, imagery and diagrams are often no-fail ways to grab and hold people’s attention – so don’t be afraid to think outside of standard written messages and get creative. 

 

If you’d like professional support to simplify the complex with content or visuals – or receive communications coaching and training to improve how to ditch the jargon and use minimal words for maximum impact, Eximia is here to help.

Chrissie Davis

Founder and Chartered Secretary

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