What diamonds can teach you about communication

Thinking about getting a diamond for your loved one this holiday season? (Perhaps one you deliver on one knee while asking a rather important question?) If you shop for diamonds, you should know about the four c’s: carat, cut, color, and clarity. These four attributes help you determine the quality of a diamond. These attributes can also help you improve the quality of your communication. Let’s take a look at each of these as they relate to speaking and writing.

Carat: Does your message carry the proper weight?

Think communications don’t have weight? Think about the last time you heard a speech that had plenty of rhetoric but little useful information. Or read an article that left you wondering if it had a point. How did you describe it? Perhaps you said it was “full of fluff” or the presenter was a “lightweight speaker.” The weight of communications comes from the value it gives to the audience. Just as heavier diamonds are worth more, the amount of useful or entertaining content you provide increases the value of your communication.

Cut: Organization brings out the brilliance of your ideas.

Uncut diamonds don’t look like much. It isn’t until you start cutting them that you bring out their brilliance. The same is true with communication. When you write your first draft, your ideas seem like a muddied jumble. As you identify the key ideas, develop a clear and understandable structure, and trim your talk to a manageable size, your content becomes clearer to yourself and your audience.

Color: Know the intention of your communications.

Diamonds come in a range of colors, but the most desirable are the purest in hue. White diamonds inspire a perfume, yellow diamonds appear in an (NSFW) rap song, but stones that aren’t quite either color just look unattractive. Likewise, communications that don’t have a clear message, a specific audience, or clear intention are unlistenable. Make sure you are clear about what you are communicating and that your message fits your intended audience.

Clarity: Have you eliminated distractions?

When you provide enough content, organize it properly, and are certain you picked the right type of message for your audience, you’re well on your way to delivering a clear message. But just as a large, well cut, and clear diamond can be flawed by imperfections, your message can be ruined by distractions. If you are giving a speech, be careful of verbal tics such as ahs and ums, make sure your clothing doesn’t distract the audience, and avoid inappropriate language and humor. In writing, avoid typos and other errors. While you can’t eliminate all flaws, work to eliminate the major ones that can distract your audience.

Shaping communication is like shaping a diamond. It takes careful, painstaking work. But when done well, you can provide your audience with a gift of lasting value.