Skip to content

The Importance of Clear Communication

Clear communication is key for leaders to motivate their teams and ensure their messages stick.

At this time of year, Thursday night is business night in my household. We kickstart the evening with Dragons Den, before watching the Apprentice. 

As my wife and I watched The Apprentice last Thursday, one thing struck me – the importance of clear communication. 

So what happened?

The task for both teams was to design and launch a new brand of dog food. One of the teams, with Megan Hornby as Project Manager, decided to use insects as the base for their product. 

The issue, however, was that the communication from Megan has mixed and confusing. She told her team that their USP was the use of insects as a protein source, but not to focus on it. She told them to focus on the healthy benefits, but not too much.

Her team left their morning briefing confused and the mixed messaging led to abysmal branding that ultimately cost them the task. 

This episode was a lesson for leaders and managers – if you're not clear with your communication, people will have different interpretations of your messaging. 

But how can leaders ensure their communication is clear?

Focus on a single message

If Megan had communicated to her team that their USP was the use of insects as a protein source and they should focus their branding and marketing on this, the end result would've been very different. 

Her team would've left under no illusions of what their vision was. 

Megan's downfall was that she pushed multiple messages to her team.

As managers, we should focus on a single message to ensure that our teams understand our vision. 

Communicate your message more than once

According to John Medina, author of Brain Rules, "the typical human brain can hold about seven pieces of new information for less than 30 seconds."

Consider all of the new pieces of information your reports are exposed to every single day at work. 

One simple trick you can do is to communicate your message more than once to your team. The key, according to research, is to space these messages at deliberate intervals. 

"This was demonstrated by German researcher Hermann Ebbinghaus more than 100 years ago. He showed that repeated exposure to information in spaced intervals provides the most powerful way to fix memory in the brain" writes Medina. 

Ask for your team's understanding

In her book, The Making of a Manager, Julie Zhuo – former VP of Design at Facebook – suggests that managers should check that their team understand the message instead of trusting that they have communicated effectively. 

"At the end of a conversation, when you're not sure whether you've been heard, there are a few things you can do. The first is a verbal confirmation: "Okay, let's make sure we're on the same page – what are your takeaways and next steps?"

By simply asking your team what their takeaways are - or what their next steps are - you can gain an understanding of whether your messaging has actually landed, or whether you have not communicated effectively. 


Communicating clearly is important for any professional, but especially for managers. 

When you are leading a team towards a united outcome, you have to ensure the messages you communicated are clear and are understood by your reports. 

The three takeaways and action points to communicate clearly are: 


You don’t need a side project to be a successful SEO

30 Thoughts on Turning 30