Explaining the Complicated so Anyone Can Understand,”
By Frank J. Pietrucha; AMACOM, New York, New York; 2014; 272 pages; $17.95.
The importance of what’s being called the digital revolution is that people everywhere are learning how to gain access to a huge array of information. It’s an odd sort of revolution because much of it is expressed in rarefied languages that only computer specialists seem to understand.
Author Frank Pietrucha points out that even though today’s knowledge seekers “increasingly crave information that’s not easy to understand and even harder to use, they are demanding and getting more than info on paper or a pdf file.”
Pietrucha puts this another way:
“For communications—anyone with information or ideas to share—can now show audiences insights that previously could only be explained with words. Tools born of the Internet allow us to manipulate data into forms that can bring us deeper understanding. The ease of multimedia grants (even the technologically challenged) the power to communicate with video, audio, images to deliver a fuller communication experience. All good stuff, but these changes aren’t likely to come easily after centuries of thinking print. Flipping the switch from print to digital requires effort on our part. If you communicate, take no note: Failure to understand new media forms and how they impact the way we write, speak, and think could have you at a disadvantage. Conversely, embracing new digital tools—and the philosophy that drives them—can help you thrive in our hyperconnected world.”
The book has many strengths, but also several weaknesses for a book that focuses on communicating. Among its strengths is the suggested use of stylebooks, especially the stylebooks used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), a few other federal agencies, and well respected civilian newspapers. For example, it’s typical for the president of the United States to read the CIA summary reports from around the world. The president, Pietrucha notes, is “likely to read the summary up front of one document, then continue onto the next. If he engages in an issue of particular importance in one document, he might decide to delve further….but is using his time effectively by not reading exhaustive tomes on topics that aren’t especially important to him.” That’s why the CIA’s stylebook list tells you to lead with the conclusion by putting your main idea up front.
A weakness by Pietrucha in writing has a touch of humor about it.
After commenting that a writer should “use big words sparingly” and to “focus on clarity” (certainly good advice), he adds:
“When you use jargon, special words, or expressions specific professions or groups use, you’re creating a barrier between yourself and your audience. …Communicating the complicated is about inclusivity, not exclusivity. Building a moat around your topic…is one of the worst things you can do.”
If that’s truly the case, where does the term “supercommunicator” fit. Or “multimedia age,” for that matter. Fortunately, those phrases don’t take place often and rarely beyond the early part of the book.
One of the best suggestions written by Pietrucha is with the segment titled “Tips for Communicating Like a Human.” There are four points he makes that are quite appropriate and good:
“BE GENUINE. Open up and let the real you emerge. Share experiences that make you sound like a real person trying to get through life just like everyone else….
EXPERIMENT. Engage in a playful experiment of communicating with different voices. Push yourself to see how you can let our human self emerge.
LISTEN TO YOURSELF. Practice your new voice and listen to how it sounds. Read your content out loud.
DIG DEEP FOR CLARITY. Your new voice should resonate with clarity. Remove all the unnecessary fuss and reduce your content to simple thoughts.”
The author offers a complete dinner of ideas in “SuperCommunicator” for the price of an early bird special. It’s well worth the price.
Here are the current top 10 bestselling books for business.
The list is compiled based on information received from retail bookstores throughout the U.S.A.
1. “The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Fable for Managers (and Their Employees),”
by Patrick Lencioni (John Wiley & Sons… $38.14)(1)
Originally published in 2007, the book has become very popular.
2. “Strengths Finder 2.0,”
by Tom Rath (Gallup Press…$24.95)(2)
Spend less time fixing shortcomings, more time gaining strength.
3. “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,”
by Sheryl Sandberg (Knopf Doubleday Publishing…$24.95)(3)
Why women’s progress achieving leadership roles has stalled.
by Sophia Amoruso, (Portfolio Hardcover…$26.95)(4)
How a young woman escaped a bad life and achieved a very good one.
5. “The Hunt: Target, Track, and Attain Your Goals,”
by David Farbman (John Wiley & Sons…$25.00)(**)
New skyrocketing shares his views on business growth.
6. “Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t,”
by Simon Sinek (Portfolio Hardcover…$27.95)(5)
How to work together and achieve effective productivity.
7. “Doing More with Teams: The New Way to Winning,”
by Bruce Piasecki (John Wiley & Sons…$25.00)(6)
Why and how teams offer greater flexibility when used properly.
8. “Smart Tribes: How Teams Become Brilliant Together,”
by Christine Comaford (Portfolio Hardcover…$26.95)(7)
How top managers keep their teams involved and moving forward.
9. “Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt,”
by Michael Lewis (W.W. Norton & Co…$27.95)(**)
One of the hottest financial and writers is at it again.
10. “The Map and the Territory: Risk, Human Nature, and the Future of Forecasting,”
by Alan Greenspan (Penguin Group…$36.00)(9)
Former head of the Federal Reserve Board has much to say.
*(1) -- Indicates a book's previous position on the list.
** -- Indicates a book's first appearance on the list.