Mary Kay Ash is quoted as saying, “A mediocre idea that guarantees enthusiasm will go further than a great idea that inspires no one.” I would like to suggest a corollary: A mediocre idea that is understood is more powerful than a great idea that no one understands.
You may have seen people ignore this simple truth.
Paula Simmons cited a course description from the University of Alberta as an example of writing that is hard to understand.
“We will interrogate the production of ‘society’ out of a non-totalized set of archival fragments or ‘ruins,’ and we will ask how the writing of history sets hegemonic discourses into opposition with counter-discourses.”
I think this means “we will look at how culture influences the way history is written”. But really, I have no idea. Perhaps the person who wrote it felt obligated to use intellectual jargon.
Your dilemma may actually be worse. What if you have an important idea that is really complex and really hard to understand? This is very possible. Many of the clients we serve have very complex, technical concepts that they need to convey to broad business audiences. Under these conditions, what is one to do? Here is a 3-step process that can offer your audience an on-ramp to comprehending your important, hard-to-understand idea.
- Start with the problem you are solving. Suggest for example, that the world needs an abundant source of renewable energy that has little or no environmental impact.
- Connect your idea to something people already understand. For example, fusion is how the sun creates energy. Our new process takes advantage of this same concept…
- Offer more resources. For more information on our new fusion generator, see our web site here. And for more general information, consider buying Principles of Fusion Energy: An Introduction to Fusion Energy for Students of Science and Engineering.
In the extra-credit zone: Don’t make up new words unless you must. It is tempting to lead an industry by coining a word or phrase. But most of the time, a new term either confuses or leaves the audience feeling you might have aggrandized a bit.
When you bring clarity to a tough topic, you are viewed as an expert and a person that customers, executives and others can turn to when they need to understand. It is an enviable and powerful position.