Becoming a great communicator takes a lot of work. Like any other skill. It’s not just getting the news out the door. It’s not becoming a master of multi-tasking. Communication is an art, not unlike a musician or an inventor.
Malcomb Gladwell’s book Outliers states “It takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert.” John Kao spoke at Great Ideas 2012 about innovation and Jazz music. He said a jazz musician takes a piece of music and plays it 300 times until they build the capability to use the music to innovate.
We often think a writer or communicator either has it, or they don’t; the ability to create effective headlines, communicate in a way that will get the reader to do something. In fact, great communicators are no different than musicians, athletes, and technology people. They will become experts if they have the four characteristics Gladwell researched for his book. Those four qualities are: ABILITY – some element of natural talent or training, OPPORTUNITY – to experiment, to change it up and even fail, ADVANTAGE – a coach, a mentor, a good manager that offers objective and encouraging feedback and guidance, and HARD WORK.
John Kao offered that Jazz is the balance of structure and freedom: like bands, and social networks, and special forces. You couldn’t give Mark Zuckerbert too many rules, or the Jazz artist Charlie Parker. Sometimes you have to let them go off into the woodshed and experiment by themselves.
I hope you will give this some thought in your industry, and inside your association. To create communications that are clear and simple, you need some time to think clearly and simplify what you write.