Tag Archives: Curse of Knowledge

Clear; Simple; Concrete; Unexpected; Credible; Story; To the Point – Communicating 101

Do you have any idea how much time is wasted trying to figure out just what that other person is trying to say to you?  Do you have any idea how much time is wasted by that other person trying to figure out what you are trying to say?

Unclear messages, whether verbal or written, are massive time wasters.  They create uncertainty, tentativeness, confusion…  If you have something to say, you do everyone a favor if you say it clearly:  get to the point – get it said!

This is the message behind the Heath brothers’ principles of communication, in which they suggest that all speakers/writers communicate using principles such as simplicity and concreteness.

What JFK didn't say: "Our mission is to become the international leader in the space industry..."

Here is the way they put it in their book, Made to Stick:  Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die.

Had John F. Kennedy been a CEO, he would have said:  “Our mission is to become the international leader in the space industry through maximum team-centered innovation and strategically targeted aerospace initiatives.”
Here’s what he actually said:
“I believe this nation should commit itself, to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.”

Simple?  Yes.  Unexpected?  Yes.  Concrete?  Amazingly so.  Credible?  The goal seemed like science fiction, but the source was credible.  Emotional?  Yes.  Story?  In miniature.

The moon mission was a classic case of a communicator’s dodging the Curse of Knowledge.  It was a brilliant and beautiful idea – a single idea that motivated the actions of millions of people for a decade.