June 3rd, 2012
A friend of mine works for a multinational high-tech corporation. He was in Singapore on business last week and said that he’d developed a presentation that explained —very clearly and concisely — the project he was working on.
“Everyone read it and understood it right away,” he said. “The problem, though, was that since it made perfect sense — in plain English — after the very first read, my colleagues thought that it needed ‘more.’ They all went to work adding chunks of worthless information. By the end,” my friend said, “it was full of unnecessary information and dead wood.” It was a “hundred-ton brick of nothing.”
The next time you read something and understand it on the first read, tip your hat to the author. He or she worked hard to eliminate unnecessary information. As we say at Write It Well, “Impress people by communicating clearly and concisely, not by using unnecessary information or big words.”
As my friend said, “The bottom line is that understandable is OK.”
In fact, “understandable” is exactly what you want, every time.