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Let's Be Clear

Alan Smith
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Let’s get one thing clear.

I can’t get over how confusing it all is, to be honest.

The amount of information being thrown at us daily is literally staggering. Much of it playing around in my head and against much of what I used to think was true, contradictory to other snippets, or at least fathomable.

Princes accused of dallying and visiting Pizza Express (can’t decide which is most believable, but there is certainly nothing amusing about abuse), the world’s richest nation suggesting that climate change is a mistake propagated by all the pre-eminent scientists, Ducks being taken to court in France for quacking and keeping people up at night, fishing the oceans dry to make protein to feed to cattle to keep us in burgers from cattle creating enough methane to fry the planet (if you watched Meat: A threat to our planet, on BBC 1, you will know what I mean. Depressing or what!).

What on earth is going on?

Against all this backdrop, do we not all crave a bit of clarity? A simple one-dimensional story that at least we can understand and perhaps believe.

The possibility that critical analysis, empathy and other deep human processes could become the unintended “collateral damage” of our information culture is not a simple issue. The subtle breakdown of critical analysis and empathy affects us all. It affects our ability to navigate a constant bombardment of information. It incentivises a retreat to the most familiar silos of unchecked information, which require and receive no analysis, leaving us susceptible to false information and prejudice.

Skimming information becomes the only option when you are bombarded with headlines from hundreds, if not thousands, of news sources.

It’s probably the best way to sift through the insane amount of content produced daily.

That for me is the only interesting thing about Boris Johnson’s message during this general election in the UK.

His cut through message is to Get Brexit Done. Simple.

Against the other parties who are presenting far more complex and confusing messages, you can see the attraction (even for a passionate remainer like me). His clarity of message and communication seems to have cut through, and I know it is more complicated than just that, believe me.

For those of us tasked with communication and working with others to deliver a message, it seems that there are two real lessons from the Johnson story.

The first is to be utterly clear about what it is that we want to achieve. Try to boil the way we communicate that down to as simple as a proposition or proposal as possible. Think sentence rather than novel.

Of course, it might need to be substantiated but try not to confuse that with the clarity of the proposal itself.

The second is to drive that proposal as hard as you can. Communicated clearly, driven hard, proposals are the things that can move the argument on. There are a few caveats to that of course. But nice to start somewhere.

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