InsightsPOSTED March 27, 2015

When in doubt, keep it simple

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For March, the APEX team is exploring the best communication advice ever.

I was in high school and my then teacher was imparting all his wisdom on essay writing to us, stressing the importance of keeping it simple stupid. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard this particular advice, but for some reason (maybe it was the vulgarity?) his version stuck with me.

When I was completing my post grad, another teacher shared his writing approach; he always kept his senior neighbour in mind every time he wrote.

If his neighbour couldn’t understand what he was writing, he knew he wasn’t explaining it well enough. Another teacher took it further still (I’m sure he borrowed this from somewhere) and boldly asserted that if we couldn’t explain something in less than one minute, we didn’t understand it well enough.

At first I was offended at this. What did he mean?! Some things are just complicated! I screamed in my head.  But he was right (though maybe not about the minute part). If you can’t explain something simply, it is because you don’t understand it well enough.

As communicators, we act as filters. It is our job to absorb difficult subject matters and relay them in a way that is easily understood and communicates brand messages succinctly.

In the age of social media where we are given fewer and fewer characters to express ourselves, where consumers are consistently bombarded with noise, and the average attention span is constantly decreasing (are you still with me?) simple messages are a must.

In ‘The Best PR Advice You’ve Never Heard – from Facebook’s Head of Tech Communications’, Caryn Marooney states

“If your messaging isn’t unbelievably simple, you’re missing the point”

Can you imagine if Nike’s slogan was ‘be great because you have the inner strength and can do anything you set your mind to’? How effective would that have been?

To be clear, keeping things simple isn’t always easy. I imagine Nike went through countless iterations before they came up with Just Do It. But it is always the most effective.

Shawna Kaye Vassel is an account coordinator at APEX. What communication advice do you have? Let us know here or on Twitter. Also check out what others said.