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5 Ways to Make Your Communication More Powerful by Keeping it Uncomplicated

By Maxwell Leadership | February 14, 2023
5 Ways to Make Your Communication More Powerful by Keeping it Uncomplicated

This blog post has been adapted from Dr. John Maxwell’s communication resource, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect. John Maxwell has been one of the world’s foremost communication experts for more than 40 years, and this guidebook for relational and presentational connection contains invaluable insights. You can pick up a copy here.

One Sunday, a pastor shook hands with his congregation after delivering his sermon. One of his congregates told him, “Pastor, you are smarter than Albert Einstein.”

The pastor was surprised and flattered by the statement, but he didn’t know how to respond. In fact, the more he thought about the man’s comment, the more it mystified him. He couldn’t sleep properly for a week!

The next Sunday, he approached the man and asked him what he meant by it.

He told the pastor, “Albert Einstein wrote something so difficult that only ten people could understand him at that time. But when you preached, no one could understand you.”

Keep Communication Simple to Make it Impactful

Being simple is hard work. Mathematician Blaise Pascal once wrote, “I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it short.” It takes great effort to make any kind of communication concise, precise, and impacting. Or to put it as philosopher-poet Ralph Waldo Emerson did, “To be simple is to be great.” Great communicators leave their audiences with great clarity. Bad ones more often than not leave them confused.


A preschool-aged boy was eating an apple in the backseat of the car. “Daddy,” he said, “why is my apple turning brown?”

The boy’s father explained, “Because after you ate the skin off, the meat of the apple came in contact with the air, which caused it to oxidize, thus changing its molecular structure and turning it into a different color.”

There was a long silence, and then the boy asked, “Daddy, are you talking to me?”

A lot of people feel that way when a speaker or leader conveys complex ideas without making the effort to make them clear and simple. WHen this occurs, it means the communicator doesn’t understand that shooting above people’s heads doesn’t mean you have superior ammunition – it means you’re a lousy shot.

Greater complexity is never the answer in communication if your desire is to connect.


In certain situations, you don’t expect others to be clear, concise, and quick. If your doctor’s appointment took only 10 minutes, you’d be shocked. But other situations are different. Anytime you’re getting ready to hear someone speak, if it takes them a long time to get to the point, you know you’re in trouble.

Winston Churchill once said about a colleague, “He is only of those orators who, before he gets up, does not know what he is going to say; when he is speaking, does not know what he is saying; and when he has sat down, doesn’t know what he has said.” What an indictment. You’ve probably heard some communicators like that.

If you are communicating with others, whether you’re speaking to a child, leading a meeting, or giving a speech to a large audience, your goal should be to get to the point as soon as you have established a connection with people and to make as great an impact on others as you can with as few words as possible. Great leaders, speakers, and communicators do this consistently.


Good teachers know that the fundamental law of learning is repetition. Good teachers know that the fundamental law of learning is repetition. Good teachers know that the fundamental law of learning is repetition.

It’s been said that people have to hear something sixteen times before they really believe it. That might seem extreme, but repetition is essential in communication if you want people to understand and believe what you’re saying. William H. Rastetter, who taught at MIT and Harvard before becoming CEO of IDEC Pharmaceuticals Corporation, asserts, “The first time you say something, it’s heard. The second time, it’s recognized, and the third time, it’s learned.” That’s a more optimistic view, but is still highlights the value of repetition.

If you want to be an effective communicator, you have to be willing to keep emphasizing a point.


Did you know the great Cunard liner Queen Mary was originally to have been called the Queen Victoria? The change took place after the Cunard official informed George V, Queen Mary’s husband, of the name – only instead of communicating clearly, the official said the vessel would be named after the “greatest of all English queens.”

“Oh,” exclaimed George V, “my wife will be so pleased!”

When we’re done communicating, people are persuaded not by what we say, but by what they understand. When you speak clearly and simply, more people can understand what you’re trying to communicate. Being a simple communicator isn’t a weakness – it’s a strength!

Author and critic John Ruskin observed, “The greatest thing a human ever does in the world is to see something and tell others what he saw in a plain way. Hundreds can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see. To see clearly and tell others clearly is poetry, prophecy, and religion all in one.”


Take a moment and think about all the teachers, speakers, preachers, politicians, and leaders you’ve listened to over the years. What percentage of the time have you come away from a session thinking, I sure wish they had spoken longer; that was just too short? That percentage if probably very small.

Unfortunately, more than 90 percent of the time, people wear out their welcome when they communicate. They’re like the politician Abraham Lincoln was referring to when he said, “He can compress the most words in the smallest ideas of any man I ever met.”

Winston Churchill was perhaps the greatest communicator of the twentieth century. He was an excellent leader, an inspiring communicator, and an accomplished writer, receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953. He continually expressed the importance of keeping communication simple. He stated, “All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope,” and “Broadly speaking, the short words are the best, and the old words best of all.”

It may seem counterintuitive, but if you want to take your communication to the next level and connect with people, don’t try to impress them with your intellect or too much information. Give them clarity and simplicity. People will relate to you, you will connect, and they’ll want to invite you back to communicate with them again.

Looking for more ways to become a better communicator?

At Maxwell Leadership, our heart is personal growth and development. It is so much part of our DNA that at our twice-annual event, the International Maxwell Conference, we have an entire day dedicated to personal growth – and we’d like to invite you to join.

On March 13, 2023, join Dr. John C. Maxwell and his panel of personal growth experts – including NFL head coach Sean McDermott! – at the Marriott World Center in Orlando, Florida (or remotely!) for an entire day of growth and development training. Not only will you connect with other professionals passionate about achieving their full potential, but you’ll also go home equipped with an intentional action plan to begin putting in place same-day.You can register for Personal Growth Day here – we would love to grow with you!

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