When I was putting together The Art Magic and Science of the Perfect Pitch I spoke with people who hear and read lots of presentations. Ming Zhou, Program Director at the National Cancer Institute, is responsible for a lot of money that goes out in the form of grants. When I asked him what is the number one problem with the vast majority of grant applications and pitches his answer really surprised me —
“Clarity. The #1 problem is not being clear.”
When I asked him what he meant he said that decision makers are too busy to bother with things they have to figure out. If it’s not clear, it just gets passed over.
It’s not just pitches and proposals, either. When you are putting together any communication that is intended to influence others and achieve important outcomes clarity is critical. When you’ve finished your proposal, let go of all you know, look it over one more time and ask yourself three questions.
(1) Could someone who is not you follow it easily?
(2) Is it obvious what you’re talking about from the very beginning?
(3) Is the structure contributing to making the message clear?
This 2 minute video tells about my conversation with Ming and the importance of clarity.