Keep It Simple

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex. It takes a touch of genius…and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”     –Albert Einstein

Simplicity is good.

I’m fortunate enough to have finished college and seminary. Along the way, I read a lot of complicated books; enough to know that the academic world speaks its own language. Sure, the books were mostly in English, but it was Ivory Tower English, PhD English. They don’t have conversations, they have discourse. It’s exegetical, it’s annotated, it’s not for the uninitiated.

I like things that initiate the uninitiated. Make it simple. As I think about my favorite books of all time, I believe they are all under 250 pages.  Isn’t that long enough? Of course the Bible is a tome, but it’s actually 66 short books in one. When I wanted to read a biographies on Einstein, Sojourner Truth, and others, I read the ones that were geared toward the middle school crowd. Why not? The facts are accurate, and it’s a quick read. And considering we don’t retain much of what we read any way, why waste all that time?

Jesus kept it very simple: “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed into his field….” That’s what I’m talking about.

One big complaint I’ve had with politicians is that they rarely answer a question directly. Even when the questioner says “yes or no,” they still find away to talk around it for at least a minute and a half.

The communicators with the greatest impact keep it simple. When Chris Rock cracks a joke, it’s funny largely because you understood it clearly. When certain other people get up to speak, you fall asleep because it’s convoluted and boring. Not saying the person isn’t smart….OK, that is what I’m saying, because any public speaker who doesn’t know how to keep people’s attention has a lot to learn.

And hey, I’ve seen people look bored as I’m preaching. I’ve watched kids attention span snap like a twig while I’m trying to impart some wisdom. I’ve told jokes and called out to an audience member to participate and she wasn’t even listening to the question I just asked her. I’ve been boring! But I really hate to be bored, and as a teacher of the Golden Rule, I realize that I owe it to people to do better. Also, I think I’ll achieve my mission better if people actually want to hear what I have to say.

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One response to “Keep It Simple

  1. Good point – one of the things we suggest on our training days is that presenters and public speakers should sort out their presentations as though they were explaining things to my mum. Well, any mother, really…

    If you can’t explain it to my mum, you’ve not simplified enough 🙂

    Simon – presentations training, UK

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