embrace simplicity

3 recommendations for writers and strategists

I used to write long blog articles with as many points as possible. I now limit myself to 400 words – or less – and try to make 3 strong points.

I used to make speeches that contained as much information as possible until I realised that three points is about all anyone was going to take away from one of my speeches.

I still see advertising that contains any number of messages with the advertiser unaware that the fewer the number of messages, the more likely the advertisement is likely to cut through.

There is always a temptation to communicate too much and in so doing not actually communicate at all. Further as the number of advertising messages we are being bombarded with each day approaches 10,000 it becomes increasingly difficult to remember any of them.

I would argue that simplicity is one of the most underrated considerations in branding, marketing and communication today.

When you see an advertisement, if the single core message does not resinate immediately, it will probably never resonate at all. That message needs to be:

  • Singular
  • Clear
  • Obvious

No one is going to work at understanding what you have to say. Why would they?

I would argue that articles, speeches and advertising messages tend to be far too complex, and indeed so complex that effective communication does not take place at all.

I have learned from years of writing and speaking that I have done well if the reader of listener takes three points away from what I have said. This is why I now limit my articles and speeches to:

  • One idea
  • Two pages
  • Three conclusions

No one is going to work at understanding what you have to say. Why would they?

I would argue that strategy is one of the areas in which simplicity is most important and most often ignored. Many strategies are not well implemented and all too often that is because the strategy was too complex.

Strategies that are implemented tend to focus on:

  • Identifying value creation drivers
  • Identifying critical challenges
  • Identifying must win battles

No one is going to work at understanding your strategy. Why would they?

We live in a very complex world but perversely this creates a greater need for simplicity.

Simplicity is essential to ensure:

  • Understanding
  • Remembering
  • Action

Understanding is essential to ensure remembering and remembering is essential to ensure action, and without action the article, speech, advertisement or strategy is useless.


  1. When you have drafted your article or speech – simplify it
  2. When you have drafted your advertisement – simplify it
  3. When you have drafted your strategy – simplify it

That way there might be action and action is what really matters.

This has been my biggest failing and I am working on it.

To learn more about this and related issues – www.djohncarlsonnetwork.com

To learn more about the author – www.d.johncarlsonesq.com

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