The essentials of communication for professionals, educators, students, and entrepreneurs, from organizing your thoughts to inspiring your audience.
Do you give presentations at meetings? Do you ever have to explain a complicated subject to audiences unfamiliar with your field? Do you make pitches for ideas or products? Do you want to interest a lecture hall of restless students in subjects that you find fascinating? Then you need this book. Make It Clear explains how to communicate—how to speak and write to get your ideas across. Written by an MIT professor who taught his students these techniques for more than forty years, the book starts with the basics—finding your voice, organizing your ideas, making sure what you say is remembered, and receiving critiques (“do not ask for brutal honesty”)—and goes on to cover such specifics as preparing slides, writing and rewriting, and even choosing a type family.
The book explains why you should start with an empowerment promise and conclude by noting you delivered on that promise. It describes how a well-crafted, explicitly identified slogan, symbol, salient idea, surprise, and story combine to make you and your work memorable. The book lays out the VSN-C (Vision, Steps, News–Contributions) framework as an organizing structure and then describes how to create and organize your ideas with a “broken–glass” outline, how to write to be understood, how to inspire, how to defeat writer's block—and much more. Learning how to speak and write well will empower you and make you smarter. Effective communication can be life-changing—making use of just one principle in this book can get you the job, make the sale, convince your boss, inspire a student, or even start a revolution.
Patrick Henry Winston (1943–2019) was Ford Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science at MIT.
I learned more from Patrick Winston than any other professor while at MIT. I use many of his lessons to this day, both inside and outside the workplace.
Eric Chemi, MIT Class of 2005, and CNBC TV Reporter
“Patrick Henry Winston commands our obedience to clarity in text and speech with dazzling analogies about every form of communication. He describes five ways to make sure your words will be remembered. Shun the lectern. It reduces even a celebrated speaker is to a motionless zombie. Decline the laser pointer. Devise a surprise. Boil down your words to a slogan. Winston saves listeners and readers from innumerable hours of incomprehension and downright boredom.”
Sir Harold Evans, New York Times bestselling author of Do I Make Myself Clear?
“This book is a unique take on understanding the importance of human communication from a foremost researcher on artificial intelligence (AI), MIT Professor Patrick Winston. After many years of working in AI, Winston came to the insight that to advance artificial intelligence he first had to rigorously understand communication among humans. Winston's book explains simple ways to put this knowledge to practical use. Everyone—from laymen, to politicos, to scientists of all kinds—will enormously benefit from reading this book.”
Michael L. Telson, former Chief Financial Officer, US Department of Energy, and APS and AAAS Fellow.