Well done for completing the Beginner Clarity Challenge. Here are the solutions as well as some ideas for furthering your knowledge.
Why should you avoid using a ‘stream of consciousness' approach in business communication?
All of the above: It makes it hard for your audience to work out what you are trying to say, it drives your audiences ‘nuts' and your business audiences are reading for purpose, not for pleasure.
Gabrielle Garcia Marquez you may be, but not at work please!
What is the maximum number of words you should include in your governing idea?
Ideally, no more than 25. This allows for one full sentence but leaves no room for rambling.
Which is more important?
Hopefully the answer here was rhetorical: We believe the most important thing is to use structure and logic to organise your ideas, Other aspects such as elegant word choice and providing the audience the right amount of detail for them will come naturally once you are clear about what you need to communicate. Avoiding typos is, of course, always important but never as important as clarity around the ideas that you need to convey.
When should you start thinking about clarifying your thinking?
The sooner you start to focus on clarity the better, and certainly well before the end of your research process. Ideally, you should be clear about the single problem statement that underpins your research before you start researching. If you do this, you will then not only know what question to answer in your final report but also have mapped out your research plan with greater focus.
How many ideas should govern your next piece of communication?
Just one: the job of the governing idea is to unify your whole argument. The discipline involved in pushing for one single overarching idea brings enormous clarity to your thinking. Try it: it's hard, but it works.
Where makes the most sense for you to start?
Our personal bias comes out here: of course begin wherever you are most comfortable, but the most effective approach that we see people taking is to begin with small pieces of communication and prepare them often. In that regard, voicemails and emails are a perfect beginning point.
Ensuring you state the important points near the top of whatever pieces of communication you prepare is also an excellent approach.
If you find other approaches work for you, please let us know in the comments section below. We'd love to hear from you.
What is the ultimate test of clarity?
That my reader can understand the general gist within a short time – yes, even as quickly as 30 seconds. They will not understand all the detail at this point but they will have the general idea and also know how to read your document as the executive summary will provide a clear roadmap for them to follow.
Would you like to improve the clarity of your own communication?
With a bit of luck this is rhetorical: You have got this far, so we assume you do!
There are lots of ways you may like to proceed:
- Visit the concept sections inside this Member portal
- Take a look at some of the smaller items in our Clarity College shop, such as the Structured Thinking 101: Clarity Through Storylines eDoc, or perhaps the Clarity Cheat Sheet.
- Visit the samplers from our Clarity Through Storylines eCourse.