Monday, January 04, 2010

The Importance of Details in Communication

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It's amazing what the small details can do in communicating best to others.

Take this traffic light concept for example:


A standard street light is pretty simple: red means you stop; green means you're clear to go; yellow means a the light is going to change to red soon. And yet there is something crucial not communicated with a standard street light—how soon is it going to change.

I can't count the number of times I've sat at a light waiting for it to change from red to green and been watching the crosswalk signals to find out how close we are to being able to go. I'm sure you find yourself doing it too. This proves that only a little bit of extra info can be really important.

And here, in the concept picture above, a simple series of lights around the outside of the main light, that count-down the red light, give us this information clearly without much interference to the current system of communication.

This approach can be taken in nearly every system of communication we engage in and use: our everyday conversations, public speaking, emails, advertising, web sites, phone calls, cell phone texts, product packaging, even in branding and identity—the list can go on and on. In every system that we use to communicate with others we can probably do it a little better. And sometimes all it takes is some simple changes.

For example, when you're giving a presentation (i.e. public speaking) or even in face-to-face conversations, what does your body language communicate? That you didn't get much sleep last night? That you're nervous? Or maybe your body language is pretty much mute and isn't helping you out at all?

How about all those cell phone texts you send? What does your spelling and grammar say? It may sound trivial—and maybe it is—but every little detail says something about you and the message you are trying to get across.

One more example: how about your business logo? What does the shape and color communicate? Does the font your name is displayed in say anything? Maybe you don't even have a logo—what does that say to people?

Some things you do don't need to change much, if at all, to communicate your message the best that it can. But maybe some things need to change a lot.

What little things have you noticed that make you a better communicator? Is there anything that you notice you need to change to better communicate with others?

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