Keep communications clear and simple

To ensure that what you meant to express is what your audience hears, it’s worth keeping in mind the tenet ‘less is more’.

Added by Anna Myers, March 2011.

The key to success in going public with your organisation’s identity is clarity of communication. Your mission statement, as an expression of your identity and purpose, is the cornerstone of that communication. To ensure that what you meant to express is what your audience hears, it’s worth keeping in mind the tenet ‘less is more’.

We heard from one Chief Executive who shared his experience of communicating the distinctive identity of the large, diverse, multi-national organisation he led. He was absolutely clear about the importance of a simple, concise mission statement. In developing the company’s mission statement, he experienced opposition to condensing the complexity of what the organisation does into a single, simple sentence. But he insisted that it should consist of a few short phrases, which are simple enough yet open enough to be meaningful to staff, clients and investors.

For him, clarity of communication is the first, non-negotiable rule in the public projection of his organisation’s identity. Of course, few would argue that this is a good goal to have but it can be interpreted to mean that everything must be explained and result in dense, detailed communications. But this Chief Executive was adamant on this key point: the more words you use, the more potential you have to confuse people. The clearer and sharper both your mission statement and your communications are, the more transferable the messages are for different parts of the organisation and for different stakeholders. Talking or writing for longer, or in different ways, can cloud a message and lose your audience.

Finding the right words can take longer, but if you get them right then they communicate everything you would wish, without having to spell everything out. What you do and how you do it will fill in the gaps and ensure that the interpretation is consistent. Our Chief Executive was clear that it is the simpler statement that enables you to reach and truly engage a diverse range of stakeholders.

Topics: Communicating your distinctiveness.