By User12601034-Oracle on Mar 30, 2015
As I started reading through different poems, I was reminded once more of how incredible poems are because they teach us how to communicate more effectively than we might imagine possible. I might have lost you at the mention of reading 100 poems, but if you're still with me, let me explain the characteristics that I'm talking about:
- Word choice: Poets carefully choose
their words to paint a picture of what they want you to see.
Instead of "it was cloudy," a poet might say "the wisps of white
were like puffs of dandelion floating in a gentle blue breeze."
The poet has selected words that create the image of puffy
clouds slowly moving in the breeze. It is this kind of careful
selection of words that we should strive for in our own
messaging - using powerful words to tell our story.
- Brevity: With the exception of epic poems (apologies to Homer, Milton, Vyasa and others), poems don't spew forth every word known to man. Poets manager to get their points across in as few words as possible. Think about this - the human brain can store 5-7 'chunks' of information in short term memory. If you want to get your point across and be memorable, you should aim for 'short and sweet' in your message.
- Reflection: A great poem gives you something to
think about, and the message of that poem may stay with you long
after you read it. Likewise, if you are presenting a message,
you should think about what you want your audience to continue
thinking about long after the presentation. This can help
define the words that you use when you communicate.
You may think word choice and brevity conflict with each other,
but they really don't. A poet might choose very precise words to
create the imagery that is necessary for the meaning of the poem,
but the overall poem may be very short. Check out the following:
Risk - Anais Nin
And then the day came,
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
Hans Christian Anderson
To move, to breathe, to fly, to float,
Nin tells us that at some point we have to step up and take a risk; Dickinson tells us that what we do actually matters to others; and Anderson makes us want to get on the next plane to some unknown destiny. And they do this with beautifully painted imagery and a minimum number of words.
Long after you read this post, you'll probably be wondering 'What risk should I be taking?' Or 'Who's life might I have impacted by my actions?' Or 'Where should I go on my next journey?' And therein lies the reflective nature of poetry and its message.
Poetry may not speak to the masses (at least that's what my husband tells me), but if you consider the word choice, brevity and reflective qualities of poems and and how they relate to your own messaging, poetry may just help you become a more effective communicator.