Getting people to understand your ideas is a difficult thing. That’s why it’s been so gratifying to work at various times with Bryan Mathers over the last decade. We humans are much better at processing visual inputs than deciphering text.

That being said, as Derek Thompson shows in this article, you have to begin with the realisation that simple is smart. It’s much easier to just write down what’s in your head that do so in a way that’s easy for others to understand.

In some ways, this reminds me of my work on ambiguity, which was a side-product of the work I did on my doctoral thesis. It’s also a good reminder that one of the best uses that most people can make of AI tools such as ChatGPT is to simplify their work.

Shadow of person typing
High school taught me big words. College rewarded me for using big words. Then I graduated and realized that intelligent readers outside the classroom don’t want big words. They want complex ideas made simple.  If you don’t believe it from a journalist, believe it from an academic: “When people feel insecure about their social standing in a group, they are more likely to use jargon in an attempt to be admired and respected,” the Columbia University psychologist Adam Galinsky told me. His study and other research found that when people use complicated language, they tend to come across as low-status or less intelligent. Why? It’s the complexity trap: Complicated language and jargon offer writers the illusion of sophistication, but jargon can send a signal to some readers that the writer is dense or overcompensating. Conspicuously sesquipedalian communication can signal compensatory behavior resulting from suboptimal perspective-taking strategies. What? Exactly; never write like that. Smart people respect simple language not because simple words are easy, but because expressing interesting ideas in small words takes a lot of work.
Source: Why Simple Is Smart | The Atlantic