There I was, legs awkwardly squished under a tiny wooden table, listening to the teacher discuss what was great, and not so great, about my grade-school son’s progress. At one point she turned directly to him to discuss his lousy penmanship and said “I know you have a lot of important stuff to share, but if no one can read your handwriting we will never know what it is.”
And just like that, a light went on in my head about the undeniable importance of effective communication. What good are your thoughts, opinions or ideas if you can’t deliver them in a way that is designed for understanding?
Fast forward 20 or more years and my husband and I are sitting in an auditorium at a special event for our son. One after the other, his peers approach the podium to present their findings in ways that, while incredibly impressive, were complete gibberish to a layperson. To be totally honest, it was all pretty painful.. the medical equivalent of a never ending latin mass.
And then it was my son’s turn.
Within the first 10 seconds he re-engaged the fatigued audience with a self-effacing joke and what followed was a presentation that was clearly, specifically and respectfully designed to be understood by 100% of those in attendance.
“I know you have a lot of important stuff to share, but if no one can (understand) we will never know what it is.”
Some lessons really do stick with you for life.