Am I Making Sense?



By Stephen Copestake, Acuity Marketing & Communication

Do you sometimes wonder how it is possible that what you say or write has been misunderstood?

Let me put that question in a slightly different way…

Do you like cricket?

A lot of people don’t care for what might seem a complicated and somewhat nuanced game solely because they don’t fully understand its rules. In other words, they don’t have a framework by which to evaluate and respond to what they see happening.

It’s the same outcome when we communicate without due concern for how our message will be processed.

Miscommunication can be costly commercially and for our credibility, so clarity is a critical component in avoiding it. Being clear removes interpretation, builds trust and shows a level of respect for your audience. Without clarity we can’t persuade or inspire, because what people can’t understand, they can’t act on.

Albert Einstein’s words bring their own focus to this issue: “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.”

So, how might we get better at this?

  1. Take responsibility - understanding is never a given. It’s on you as the messenger. What isn’t perfectly clear to you can never be properly communicated.
  2. That’s why preparation is crucial. It’s in your power to be ready, so practice the delivery of your message and think through how it will be received.
  3. We say it every time, know your audience. Horses for courses; what aspects of your story will resonate, what form of words? What’s in it for them such that you both believe?
  4. Keep it simple (stupid). Language is your tool for understanding. Uncomplicated words encourage understanding and brevity. The appropriate use of examples will amplify and embed.
  5. That need for simplicity is why it’s better to go fluff-free. Take out the hedging phrases such as “Could we maybe” or “I just wanted to”. It’s really hard to do this but what isn’t essential serves only to minimise the power of your words.
  6. There is usually no need to over-explain. If it loses their attention, what you see as being thorough is not the same as being clear.
  7. Repetition, repetition. If you have managed to boil things down into single sentences don’t be afraid to place emphasis by repeating or recapping. Saying something twice is never as odd in the hearing it as it seems in the saying.


About the Company

Acuity Marketing & Communication is a company that helps businesses prosper in two crucial areas – Brand Strategy and Positioning, and Presentation/Pitch/Public Speaking coaching for leaders, executives, and teams. Contact Steve via