“A person can have the greatest idea in the world—completely different and novel—but if that person can’t convince enough other people, it doesn’t matter.”
Gregory Burns neuroscience professor at Emory University
“It’s intriguing to ask,” Carmine Gallo asks, in The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs, “would Steve Jobs’ ideas have been translated into world changing innovations had it not been for his ability to persuasively communicate?”
“Steve Jobs is the world’s supreme corporate storyteller,” Gallo writes, and Gallo believes it was Jobs’s communication skills that helped him make Apple enormously successful. Unfortunately, most innovative thinkers do not have Jobs’ communication skills. For that reason, many great ideas go unnoticed. As Gallo writes, “Countless ideas will never see the light of day, let alone move society forward, if their stories are not told effectively.”
Jobs used several techniques for clear communication. His slides were simple and he used images and pictures to make it easier for his audience to remember the messages. He spent a lot of time planning every detail of his presentations.
Jobs recognized that communication requires simplicity, so he used language that was lively—Gallo says “zippy”—and easy to understand. He wrote short, twitter-friendly headlines—“the world’s thinnest notebook.” And he organized ideas into groups of three, recognizing that too much information often leads to too little understanding.
What is Jobs’ lesson for teachers?
Like Jobs, we can be more effective and reach more students if we plan carefully and constantly reflect on how our communications can be clearer, our slides (if we use them) simpler, more visual, and more dramatic, our language more accessible, our information better organized.
Of course a lot of the most important learning in school is led by students, not by teachers. But when teachers share information, their effectiveness should be measured in part by how easy they are to understand. If educators aren’t constantly trying for better communication, their ideas, to paraphrase Gallo, may never see the light of day in students’ minds.