ProSpeak: A Not-So-Common Understanding of Fundraising and Common Sense
And I have to pay you for this?
The value of common sense is counterintuitive. Have you ever heard a comment like this? "We heard a fascinating presentation yesterday from the most brilliant man — most of us didn't understand a word he was saying." An audience that cannot follow its speaker's meaning may, naively, be dazzled by what appears to be a superior understanding of the world. However, good communications, good teaching and good consulting all rely on one central ability — the ability to present information to people in a way that they fully understand. A person who confounds his audience with his brilliance, whether he is truly brilliant or actually a rambling fool, fails to transform whatever uncommon sense he might have into the audience's common sense.
In contrast, have you ever had the good fortune to hear a complicated scientific finding explained by a popular high-school science teacher, or a complex economic analysis unraveled by a popular news analyst? These communicators are popular because they start and end with their audiences' common sense. They start where the audience is, using familiar ideas that they expand with everyday words, descriptive pictures and insightful metaphors to take their audiences to new levels of shared understanding. When they are finished, their audiences experience the aha moment — "Yes, I understand this now! Turns out that it's all just common sense."
And indeed, it is. What was previously one person's uncommon sense and many other people's common un-sense has been transformed into everyone's common sense.
Objectively, this is enormously valuable. Subjectively, not so much. The high-school science teacher is likely to be popular, but not wealthy. Meanwhile, the scientist who makes uncommon discoveries, but who cannot explain them to anyone else, is more likely to be earning big money in a research lab. But in our business of fundraising, common sense is more valuable than you might realize.