That’s Intriguing #115: How Can I Make a Complicated Idea Clear?


“If you don’t know where you’re going; you might wind up someplace else.” – Yogi Berra

Have you ever read a book, watched a video or listened to a presentation, and it was so jumbled up you couldn’t even make sense of it? Frustrating, isn’t it?

I recently attended a meeting in which the committee chair went on and on for twenty minutes, first talking about one thing and then shifting gears to another, seemingly unrelated, topic.

We were all lost (to say the least). In retrospect, those twenty minutes were a complete waste of everyone’s time.   No one understood what he was saying. No one was going to act on what he was saying.

Have you had similar experiences? Times when a speaker, author or meeting chair was all over the map, and you couldn’t make sense of what they were saying?

You know what I’ve learned?

When people are all over the map; it’s often because they don’t have a map.

They don’t have a mental destination and they have no idea how to verbally get there.

From now on, if you are chairing a meeting, giving a presentation, or writing on your expertise; it’s crucial to clarify a destination (your primary purpose that’s relevant to you and the audience) and then chart out exactly how you plan to get there.

The easiest way to do that is to develop a VERBAL and VISUAL MAP for every communication.  MAPPING out your communication is the best way to make complex ideas and instructions clear so people can understand them, remember them and follow them.

In this blog and the two that follow, I will provide four types of COMMUNICATION MAPS that help you pre-determine a track so you can stay “on track” instead of being all over the map.

COMMUNICATION MAP #1:  Acronyms and Acrostics

“Order or disorder depend on organization.” – Sun Tzu

Being organized is the very foundation from which clarity and order can exist.

Acronyms and acrostics make great visual-verbal maps because they help you structure your thoughts and put them into an easy-to-follow ORDER. They have the power to distill a confusing or complex idea into something that everyone understands.

Want an example of how and why these work so effectively in transforming info that’s “all over the map” instead something that everyone “gets,” remembers and can apply to their daily situations?

You may remember the old S.T.O.P. acronym which stands for Stop, Take a Breath, Observe, Proceed. A word is assigned to each letter in the process to make it easier to remember.

Why is all of this SO important? Because if you don’t make the important clear, it will be a waste of everyone’s time!

This idea applies to your writing just as well.

You’ll see that I use a lot of “visual maps” in my books. It won’t be possible to keep all of them top of mind.  However, you’re likely to remember POP! (Purposeful, Original, Pithy) because it is spelled out in a visual way.

What else can you do?

COMMUNICATION MAP #2:  Name and Number Your Processes

Named and numbered processes are another way to put your information “in order” so it’s easier to understand and apply.  Paragraph after paragraph of text that all looks alike becomes a blur after a while.  If you want people to be able to replicate your advice, distill it into “7 Habits,”  “12 Steps,”  “The Four Agreements” or “Top Ten List.”

Now, can you remember a time that an individual or organization made something boring – intriguing … or who made something complex – clear and compelling?

 It was pretty refreshing, wasn’t it? You can do that too!

 Ask yourself the following questions as you prepare for your presentations or communication materials.

 * Do I have a visual map that I can provide to my audience?

 * How can I divide my message to ease the delivery of information?

 * Would naming and numbering my process help my audience to remember and replicate my advice?

Stay tuned for the next “Making the Complex Clear” post where I will be introducing the Power of Three, and how discerning yours can help you deliver a more clear and powerful message. To receive our most current updates on the latest Intrigue Agency blog posts, sign-up for our Newsletter.
Picture by Collegedegrees360 – Confused

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