Communication matters. When communication breaks down, marriages, parent-child relationships, and friendships can fall apart. And at an organization level, without effective communication, leaders can't lead, products don't sell, and cherished projects don't get funded.

Which presents a paradox: if it's that important, why does most communication fail? And fail it does...

If you look at two foundational places where you need to get communication right—Sales/Marketing messaging, and leadership communication—the level of effectiveness is strikingly low.

In our ongoing survey of sales organizations, we ask two questions:

  1. "On a scale of 1-10 (10 = stupendous) how good is the core solution you offer your marketplace?" Across several hundred companies, the average response is an 8.1—pretty high, but perfectly reasonable given how good these companies' solutions generally are. Which makes the responses to the second question so baffling...
  2. "On the same scale, how well do you tell the story of that solution?" And guess what? The number plummets to a measly 3.9. When you think about how hard it has become to get face-time with key customers, delivering a 3.9/10 message is little short of heartbreaking.

It's the same story with leadership communication. When we ask people how effective are the typical presentations they sit through, only around 25% are evaluated as good or better. A full 75% are mediocre or worse, with a pretty significant 25% being bad enough to be almost rage-inducing. We've all been in that meeting where a great idea died in the loving arms of 68 dense PowerPoint slides.

What's going on?

So, what is the problem? It's surprising for organizations to be so bad at something so important. What is going on here?

The answer is simple, profound, and utterly transformative: It's all about the brain.

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image of Tim Pollard

Tim Pollard is the author of The Compelling Communicator: Mastering the Art and Science of Exceptional Presentation Design (Conder House Press, 2016). He is the founder and CEO of Oratium, a communications firm helping organizations hone their presentation and messaging skills.

LinkedIn: Tim Pollard