To communicate clearly and simply is more than merely decisive for editorial, content-related success in communication by film and video. Clear communication can be decisive for a project’s success during production.
One of the single biggest problems in communication is the illusion that communication has taken place. In this article, Videothink presents two practical proven recipes to communicate clearly and simply, which help to improve the quality of communication.
It is not important what is communicated. But what is understood
Martin Eppler is the Professor for Communication Management at the University of St. Gallen. As a consultant, he supports companies in the optimisation of their internal and external communication by applying the C.L.E.A.R. formula. The letters stand for abbreviations of five core values which, according to Eppler, should be adhered to by all unambiguous communication. We have summarised the most important items:
“C” = Context
It should be possible for the recipient of all communication to categorise it within a greater whole. A message without contextual information is incomplete for its recipient.
If the recipient interprets the message incorrectly, in-part or in-full, because he is unfamiliar with the system around and the background and intent of the message, this severely reduces the quality of the communication measure.
“L” = Logically structured
Even if time pressure determines our working life and every E-mail apparently requires an immediate response: in its structure, communication should always follow generally understandable logic which is also transparent for the recipient Illogically structured information is harder to understand than messages with an internal logical structure.
Creating space for undesired misunderstandings is (in most cases) not in the sender’s interests.
“E” – Easy and essential
Goethe and Marx had already apologised to the recipients of their frequently several page-long letters with the excuse that they had insufficient time to express themselves briefly. Simple communication is hard work and demanding.
If you can manage this off pat with absolute certainty and without contravening the imperatives mentioned above, you can be truly proud of yourself. Each recipient of a message will always be appreciative of a lack of informative environmental pollution.
“A” = Ambivalence-free
Communication should be free of ambivalence. Contradictions and double meanings make the sender’s communication unclear for the recipient.
Ambiguities are the opposite of efficient communication and result in wrongdoing or unnecessary queries.
“R” = Response
If you pass on information in the same manner as if you were throwing a chicken bone out of a car window to a stray cat while driving, you can hardly expect a storm of enthusiasm. It is no coincidence that this rule has applied for centuries: C’est le ton qui fait la musique. [french: It’s not what you say but how you say it.] Information may also be passed on to the recipient in an attractive manner.
How to communicate clearly and simply: The principle of the core statement
The core statement principle says that only one major item of information with clearly recognisable contents (a core statement) may stand in the centre of each communication. A message is the most effective if it sticks to a clear hierarchy of the statements.
Contents are assigned priorities, sorted and communicated by importance. Important information is clearly recognisable and nameable for the recipient if it is conveyed in an essential, stringent and precise manner:
According to the principle of the core statement, a message is essential if a communication measure incorporates a clearly defined, relevant statement (= core sentence). This core sentence must be targeted at the best possible relevance and clarity and, depending on the nature of the message, at the usefulness of the information for the recipient. In principle, the core statement should be named early in the message and not only at the end as a conclusion.
A message is stringent if its structure leads to the major statement logically and in clear steps. The sequence of these steps must be interlinked and causal.
A communication measure is precise if implemented with the right means and transmitted to the addressees through the right channels. Authenticity and foregoing empty phrases are a must for guaranteeing impressive communication. Dominance must be avoided. The means, implementation and choice of the communication channels must guarantee the best possible provision of the message.
The more fittingly a message is delivered, the better its precision.
Note: The above descriptions are based on concepts by Prof. Martin Eppler (C.L.E.A.R. principle) and W. Günther/Til Nassif (core statement principle), augmented and adapted with own practical experience. The Videothink editorial staff is happy to receive feedback and any contradictory opinions.