What’s being said and what’s being understood

“Between what I think, what I want to say, what I believe I’m saying, what I say, what you want to hear, what you hear, what you believe you understand, what you want to understand and what you understand, there are at least nine possibilities for misunderstanding.”

Not quite sure who should I give credit for the above phrase, but however he/she is/was, the phrase is spot on.

I participated yesterday to WordPress Meetup here in Jyväskylä where Sami Keijonen from Foxland gave keynote about writing accessible content. Sami gave some really good tips and one of them was trimming the text so that it’s shorter and all the time at the point. Someone asked the following question: How can you tell to someone (or even to yourself) to trim his/her beloved text down? Everyone who has ever wrote something knows it is hard. It is hard, because we think everything in the text is so important, that we cannot remove anything.

Going through so much trouble

To me, this sounds a lot familiar question. I sometimes teach/preach at the local Pentecostal Church and people are mostly used to sermons/teachings where is very little if any visual aids. I, on the contrary, am mostly teaching with the help of a presentation. I actually feel a bit of lost and fearful, if I don’t have a presentation to back me up. But sometimes people are saying to me: ”You always go through so much trouble in your teaching”.

I don’t see it as ”going through so much trouble”. I see it as ”getting the message across”. If I find the message to be so important, that I’m ready to spent everyones time, it much also be so important, that I do all I can to make sure that the audience really understand what I’m saying. Because it is not enough to say it. You need to say it in a way, that whoever you are communicating with really understand what you want to say to him/her.

Getting the message across

And I think this same principle goes to writing accessible content, because after all – its all about reaching your audience and getting the message across. It is not enough to write it. You need to write it in a way, that it is easy for people to understand the text in a way you want them to understand it. It is the end result, that actually means something. If you write something and none of your readers actually understand what you are meaning or have no time to become more familiar with the text, what do you gain by that? Your text has made zero impact and you have just wasted a few hours writing it.

”Everything in my text is so important, that I can’t remove anything!” It’s precisely, because of your text is so important, you should find a way to trim it down. Most people will not read long posts and most likely neither will you. So why should you write one?