U.S. President FDR on how to SIMPLIFY a MESSAGE

 In Delivery, Learning from Luminaries, News, Philosopher, Politicians, The Winning Voice

In 1942, U.S. president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt converted one of his own government department memos – a blackout order:


“Such preparations shall be made as will completely obscure all Federal buildings and non-Federal building occupied by the Federal government during an air raid for any period of time from visibility by reason of internal or external illumination.”


“Tell them that in buildings where they have to keep the work going on to put something across the windows.”

This conversion was relayed in the book, On Writing Well, by William K Zinsser (Harper Collins, 2006). In the book Zinsser urges writers to simplify, simplify. With simplicity in mind and as an example of “a man saying in a plain and orderly way what is on his mind”, Zinsser shares an example from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived”.

OWN the Conversation

Please excuse my focus in the last few posts on the power of simple messages.

I’ll take a break from this theme in the next few posts.

With ‘Simplicity sells’ in mind, for the next seven days take a moment – before you send an email or deliver a spoken message – to reduce the number of words or syllables you use to convey your thoughts.

p.s. Sometimes you might need to quickly send a gift of wine to a significant other, client, or colleague or friend.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know you could phone someone and give him your credit card details and he’ll take care of everything: the gift card and message, arranging the type of wine you want tailored to your budget, delivered when you want?

The person I call to deliver my wine gifts is Rip Viropoulos, who manages the Camperdown Cellars stores.

I suggest you trial his services. (NB: I get no kick-back from Rip for this message).

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