Keep It Simple

Keep It Simple

Simplicity sells

Complexity repels.


Learning English as a foreign language, with its complicated grammar & ambiguous meaning of words, is difficult enough without having the laborious reference to the dictionary. While the British delight in using overlong, obtuse & bombastic words, it is perhaps opportune to give an airing to the American writer Richard Lederer who had a passion for succinct words.

He wrote the following using words of only one syllable:

  • bright like sparks that glow in the night

  • prompt like dawn that greets the day

  • sharp like the blade of a knife

  • hot like salt tears that scald the cheeks

  • quick like moths that flit from flame to flame

  • and terse like the dart and sting of the bee.

Would you rather have bombastic words that might require reference to the dictionary? Or simple effective little words like the above to captivate your imagination.

Flashing back to my days at the University of Malaya in the early 1960s, I was particularly impressed with two good speakers – Professor Wang Gangwu & the not-so-frequent forum speaker Lee Kuan Yew. While the former, being an academician, spoke with the intellectual language, Harry Lee (as he was fondly known) spoke effectively & fluently with the power of the simplicity of words. Without doubt, Harry Lee demonstrated as a more effective communicator.

Remember “The Gettysburg Address” by President Abraham Lincoln:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

The world at once noted well what he said making the battle itself less important than the speech. Lincoln & Benjamin Franklin were best remembered for their great ability to paint words like pictures.

We are all salesmen in every aspect of the word. What we sell is not as important as how we sell. Win your audience over with simplicity rather than repel them with complexity.

Paul Chong

A Chinese by Descent

An Australian by Consent

Monday, 3 August 2009


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