How many times have you wished someone would just BE CLEAR?
In life and business, you’ve never advocated for more confusion, right? Vague directions, over-long emails, meandering presentations – we’ve all suffered through them. And maybe we made others suffer through ours!
Every leader and communicator needs to strive for clarity in their work. It’s a huge strategic advantage, and it’s required at every level of every organization. I’ve developed a simple framework, the Clarity Fuel Formula, that anyone can employ to become more clear.
What Is Clarity?
The word actually refers to more than one thing. We should be pursuing clarity in at least four dimensions:
Clarity of Purpose.
What is your reason, your highest-level aim, and your objective? For companies, this should be embedded in their Mission/Purpose statements. Individuals who have this kind of personal/professional clarity are far better equipped to make successful decisions. At this level, we’re answering the question,” Why?”
Clarity of Direction.
Where are we going? What is the endpoint or goal? What lane are we swimming in, and what do we want to accomplish? With this, we’re answering the question,” Where?” Every organization and individual benefits from having a focused direction.
Clarity of Expectations.
This is very important for leaders and managers. This is where people are informed of the particular behaviors and outcomes that are desired or required. To set people up for success, we have to answer the questions,” What? and How?”
This level gets very much into the specifics of the situation and people involved – applying general principles to particular circumstances.
Clarity of Expression.
This means employing the principles of effective communication design by using words that are clear, attention-getting, vivid, and simple to understand.
At this level, we’re answering the question,” What are you saying?” Which includes this triplet of sub-questions: What’s the point? What do you mean? And what’s the desired change? This dimension of clarity is for everybody – literally. We ALL need to communicate clearly.
The Key to the Point Is Focus
All four dimensions of clarity are fueled by one keyword: Focus. When your work and words are focused, not vague and diffuse, you position yourself (and your team) to win.
Focus and clarity are conjoined twins. If you can’t express the main point in one simple sentence, you may need to adjust your focus until you can. This, of course, is foundational to all successful branding, marketing, and sales.
My new book, The Point, explains in a very practical manner how to achieve clarity of expression. Using words that work with, not against, the human brain’s operating system. That’s the Clarity Fuel Formula.
So, here is how I define clarity: Focused ideas expressed in brain-friendly words. That simple phrase encompasses all four dimensions outlined above. Brain-hostile communications are confusing, ambiguous, or overburdened with Too Much Information (TMI) and vague jargon. Confusion shuts down the brain and closes the ear.
And we can’t afford to lose engagement because here’s the deal: Communication is competition.
Every day, you and I are up against Olympic-level competition. Attention spans are short, and the amount of distraction surrounding our customers (and us!) is overwhelming. We are in a fierce battle for focus. Every moment of every day. As the saying goes, “The biggest problem in communication Is the illusion that it has taken place.”
It’s the same battle for everyone – selling, marketing, leading, presenting, and training. That email you just sent? It’s now competing for attention with dozens of others in a crowded inbox.
Winning With Clarity
How do we win against all that noise? With messages that are brief, clear, vivid, and relevant. In the battle for attention, less is more.
Clarity of expression breaks through a mind distracted by smartphones and streaming. It rises above an endless parade of other words and images by getting to the point – quickly.
Clarity wins. In fact, the one competitive advantage we can all gain is the ability to create clear, winning communications.
This is a practical, doable skill. I know because I’ve learned it (the hard way) over many years, and I have now trained hundreds of other professionals in best practices to achieve clarity.
The Point is a practical handbook to help you and your team achieve clear communication. Everything we do in business (and in life!) boils down to that one moment of truth – do we gain a hearing and move people to action? That’s winning, which is, after all…the point.
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Steve Woodruff is a communication expert and author who helps people find their focus and make themselves clear. He believes that with the right tactics, anyone can win at work through better communication. He is the author of two books, Clarity Wins and The Point, which teach readers how to communicate with clarity and focus.
Woodruff has over 30 years of experience in sales, marketing, and consulting and has worked with clients such as Pfizer, Novartis, and GSK. He is passionate about helping others discern, articulate, and maximize their strengths.
When he’s not training professionals on leadership and communication, Woodruff enjoys spending time with his wife, Sandy. He also loves sharing his love for the outdoors and photography with his five sons.