Communication lessons from Pope Francis

A recent speech from the pontiff offers timeless linguistic lessons for communicators from every tongue and tribe. Levity and brevity are heavenly, but beware the temptation of adjectives.

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Pope Francis comms lessons

How long has it been since your last confession of overusing adjectives?

We’ve long espoused the gospel of brevity here at Ragan, but it seems we have a powerful new ally in the fight against fluff: Pope Francis. The pontiff spoke to his comms team at the Vatican this week, praising the virtues of “austere language” and touting the power of stout nouns.

His speech preaches the good news of simple, clear and straightforward language, and it offers timeless wisdom for communicators from any global tribe. Meditate on these snippets from Pope Francis’ speech, along with a few salient takeaways:

Sprinkle in gentle humor, and speak from the heart.

I have a speech to read… it’s not that long, it’s seven pages… but I’m sure that after the first one the majority of you will fall sleep, and I won’t be able to communicate.”

Papa Francisco had a seven-page speech prepared by Dicastery of Communication staffers, but he immediately veered off script—opting instead to speak from the heart.

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