Keep It Simple and Communicate

Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Here is a story I read about Albert Einstein:

Einstein attended a lecture by a professor, along with a lot of other people. The professor made the subject so complex, Einstein believed the audience needed to be enlightened by presenting it more simply. So he went onto the platform and explained in simple terms what the professor had tried to convey.

We block the understanding of others with the use of the wrong words. Why does this happen?:

Pride is the first reason.

Whether writing or speaking, we exhibit the wrong kind of pride when big words are used, the audience may not understand. Consequently, they may be trying to figure out what was just said, while we have perhaps gone on to the next point. A good communicator analyzes their potential audience and crafts what is being said accordingly.

Someone I knew did this when he spoke in presentations, and wouldn’t take advice to the contrary. He seemed to think it was the “job” of the audience to be intellectual enough to understand what he was saying. I responded, “Not if you want to communicate.”

Communicating effectively is not about “dumbing down” what we are trying to get across to our listeners. Neither is it about being uncomfortable using a vocabulary we are unfamiliar with.

The second reason: Vocabulary is a tool.

A rock sculptor uses different chisels to cut away the desired amount of rock. A wide one would not be appropriate to remove a narrow amount of the surface he is working on, and vice-versa.

A good teacher would not use technical words to help her kindergarten class to learn a scientific concept. She would use appropriate language to help her students understand.

Jesus taught mostly common laborers, farmers, and fishermen. He did not use lofty theological examples that none of them could comprehend. He used stories, called parables, that contained deep meanings, but said in a simple way.

Vocabulary is a tool we must use wisely. We can put countless hours in researching and writing and presenting what we have to offer as a writer or speaker. There may be only one chance to make a good impression before we lose a person forever as a reader, listener, and supporter. Do we dare to take the chance we may offend them or leave them with little understanding of what we said in whatever medium of contact?

I recently found a story about Albert Einstein that fits perfectly in this article. Much can be learned from him if you will study what he said and did. I believe you will have more friends and followers if you learn to speak and write simply so you can be understood.