Can you afford the time to bring your content to life? Or can you afford not to?
I’m writing this stuck on a train, and it’s struck me what a good analogy train delays are for bad communication. This whole blog is effectively about using visual language to hack system 1 – that is, to make complex things make sense quickly and intuitively. But what is the cost of failing to do this?
You see, communication problems have a compounding effect. If someone doesn’t understand what you’re saying after ten minutes, then you’ve wasted ten minutes of their time. But if a roomful of people don’t understand what your saying, then you’ve wasted ten minutes x 200 people, the equivalent of 30 hours. Then there’s the knock-on effect – if the content was important, then all those people will go out wasting more time trying to figure out what it was you were trying to explain to them.
So next time you’re planning a presentation, writing a document, creating an instruction manual, building a user interface or whatever, imagine yourself as a train driver and your audience as the passengers. Then ask yourself: How many people are on board, and how important is it that they get to their destination? It doesn’t matter if it’s just a 5-minute pre-read e-mail or a 5-minute presentation – if there are a 1000 people on board, then the potential compound delay is not 5 minutes but 1000 x 5mins = 3.5 days. With great communication comes great responsibility.