What You Say and How You Say It


Every time you want to communicate something, the content of what you’re presenting is vitally important.

If what you’re saying isn’t realistic, inspiring, appropriate, innovative or somehow valuable, then there isn’t a lot of incentive for anyone to pay attention.

Perhaps just as important, however, is HOW you communicate your message.

Even with the greatest idea in the world – you’ve cured every disease and are making the pill you’ve developed available for free – if you present it in such a way that no one will listen to you, the world is no better off than if you hadn’t developed the cure in the first place.

Keep this in mind, and try to put yourself in the shoes of the person you want to communicate with. What would they need to hear from you to believe your story? To want to listen to you? To understand what you’re telling them?

A little relatability goes a long way.


  1. I’m a bit curious as to what inspired this post – maybe it’s just the Icelandic photo :)

    You obviously have a very valid (albeit perhaps a bit obvious) point, but it kind of seems too “Communication 101″ for your usual level of writing…

    I certainly don’t mean this as an attack in any way – I just wish there was a deeper point to this than the very often-before stated “always keep your audience in mind” – some personal experience, .. well *something*

    • Haha, actually, it’s something that I struggle with, even though my background is in branding (which would imply that I ALWAYS think from the other person’s perspective).

      I frequently find myself having to be reminded that just because something is OBVIOUSLY (to me) a good idea, doesn’t mean that everyone else will automatically see it that way.

      I then went to the Seed Forum here in Reykjavik recently and saw this presentation by a very intelligent guy with a good idea, but with this absolutely horrendous slide show.

      Felt it might be time for a reminder, for myself as much as anyone :)

      • Yeah – of course the same things are not “obvious” to everyone, but I just figured this was hardly groundbreaking news to your readers ;) But it’s funny how meta this has become now.

        I’ve become so used to stock photos accompanying blog posts (and tend to zone them out), that I didn’t even realize that the photo was actually taken by you and was the core point of your post.

        The presentation looks insanely chaotic – was it in Icelandic? I hope you’re enjoying your time in Iceland, btw. I went to some of the “Design March” exhibitions and presenattions over the weekend – some were quite good

  2. On a completely unrelated note, I am finding your Twitter updates on what you’re reading to be better than Google Reader. Thanks for that service even though I’m sure it’s automated.

    • Hey thanks! Glad you enjoy them!

      Any that have ‘Reading:’ at the beginning are pulled from a special RSS feed in my Google Reader which basically takes articles I’ve read and randomly picks one every handful of hours. I keep that Reading: thinger at the beginning so it’s easy to filter out if you’re not digging it, but I like to have something going through the day and night so that I can promote good stuff for people in all time zones :)

  3. I agree. Unless it’s a cure-for-everything pill, people won’t hear about it if you don’t present it well.

    In first year we had to do a presentation which was worth 50% of our final mark in that class. We lost a lot of marks for how we presented (that was the point of the course… to communicate well). Our powerpoint was boring and we weren’t great at public speaking. Recently I joined improv so I could get more comfortable with presenting/thinking while I’m talking.

  4. Empathy can get you very far but is also crucial for effective communication. This post reminds me of “less is sometimes more”. Great points Colin.

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  6. Exactly. I always say that my biggest life tragedy was discovering being straight-up honest alone…just wasn’t going to cut it when it came to communicating passionate ideas, haha.

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