Goal of Communication

Make your audience work as little as possible to get your message.

When you are communicating a thought to an audience, your goal should be to get your thought from pointA (your brain) to pointB1 (your audience’s brains) as accurately as possible, and with as little work/effort on the part of your audience as possible.

This means that both your sentence structure and word choice should be as simple as possible. Prefer smaller, more commonly used words over large and less commonly used words. Prefer simpler sentences over more complex ones. Prefer shorter paragraphs over longer ones. Break things down into little pieces.

Why do People Use Big Words

Having said all of that, then why do we see people using big words and complex sentence structures all the time? There are several reasons, some acceptable, some not.

Acceptable reasons:

  • You are trying to be concise. Sometimes, the word that most accurately sends the message you are trying to send, is a big or uncommon word. You can save a whole sentence or two of explaining yourself, if you just use this word.
  • You are writing to experts in your field, thus understanding your big fancy words is a prereq to reading your material.
  • You are trying to be “poetic”. This isn’t my personal writing style, but some people like writing this way, and some people like reading this kind of stuff.

Unacceptable reasons:

  • You are trying to impress your audience with your knowledge of big fancy words (oh what a big man you are!).

Keep it simple!


  1. pointB could actually be a bunch of different points if your have multiple people in your audience; in that case, just consider pointB as a set of points.