Communicating with a Four Year Old

Communicating with a Four Year Old

Communicating with a Four Year Old

How would you describe what you do to a four year old? That was the question posed in a recent Medium post by Dean Vipond. Invited to talk to an elementary school classroom, what he thought was a presentation to older students, with a greater understanding of what design is, quickly had him returning to the simplest forms of what he does and why he does it.

This effort to break down a potentially complicated description and explanation down to its simplest parts is a crucial exercise for any communicator. In the social sector in particular, there can be a tendency to lose sight of the value of simplicity.

Simplicity doesn’t mean dumbing down, as we have discussed previously in our admiration for Made to Stick – simplicity means getting to the basic elements of why and how. For Dean, this mean describing design as “making something easy to use, or easy to understand,” and that “colours, letters and pictures…help people understand things.” It is a surprisingly profound and accessible way to describe the importance of design, and was done so in a way that is definitely not dumbed down.

For your organization, how can you break down what you do more simply? How could you effectively communicate what you do to a four year old?


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  4. Your long-form read of the week should be an article on growing nonprofit debt written by NPQ’s Woods Bowman.

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