Lincoln On Communication

I determined to be so clear that no honest man could misunderstand me and no dishonest man could successfully misrepresent me. - Abraham Lincoln (posted on his birthday)

Lincoln was a master communicator. He was effective with small and large groups, either one-on-one or from the platform. His strength lay in explaining complex ideas accurately and clearly. “Don’t shoot too high – aim lower and the common people will understand you,” he advised William Herndon. “They are the ones you want to reach – at least they are the ones you ought to reach. The educated and refined people will understand you any way. If you aim too high your ideas will go over the head of the masses, and only hit those who need no hitting.”

Examples and little stories became the hallmark of Lincoln’s communication style… It was a deliberately planned strategy. “Common people … are more easily influenced and informed through the medium of a broad illustration than in any other way,” he once commented. “As to what the hypercritical few may think, I don’t care.”

From Chapter 18