Save the long, drawn out mumbo jumbo for the disclaimer. If you want your message to be read, do as Don Draper does—make it simple, but significant. The famous character from AMC’s hit series, Mad Men, is often seen ripping his paper from the typewriter carriage multiple times in order to craft his message. Thankfully, we have computers with a backspace button making our work much easier than it was back in the ‘60s. The technology has changed, but the end goal is the same—keeping it simple.
The phrase “dumb it down” can have a negative connotation, but when trying to keep things simple, that’s exactly what needs to happen. Often times we overthink or try to overcomplicate things because we think it makes us sound or appear smarter. In reality, a really smart person is someone who can take a complex topic and explain it to you with simple, basic language that gets you nodding your head in agreement.
Think of an outdoor billboard. With limited space, the message has to be simple, yet significant enough to grab your attention in the eight seconds it takes to whiz by at 50 mph.
Prior to the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2013, we had the task of creating a publication for a client’s customer base explaining the ACA in simple terms. Using avatars, infographics and lots of basic language, we accomplished the goal of taking something new, unfamiliar and very complex and explaining it in a way that had the reader nodding his or her head silently saying, “Oh, I get it.”
Keeping the reader in mind and cutting to the chase will help you make your message simple, but significant. Don Draper would show his approval by pouring you a drink.