One of the things that makes effective communications a challenge is the nature of how information is formulated, expressed, received and interpreted. The process of mentally formulating a concept, expressing it to an audience, how audience the receives the information and interprets it according to their individual perspective is a trail littered with landmines of potential misunderstanding and – sometimes – humor.
The classic Abbott and Costello skit “Who’s on First” provide an amusing illustration of how people can ask reasonable questions, get reasonable answers, and confused hilarity results because what the speaker said and the listener heard were completely different.
Now imagine you’re watching a video about a youth gathering and the speaker says in all seriousness “The theme of the gathering is … worthless.”
How would you interpret that? That the theme has no value? Or that the retreat is worthless? What exactly is the message the audience is supposed to take away from a statement like that?
Tommy Lee Jones wants to know:
Here’s the video in question:
In all sincerity I wish the conference organizers all the best in their efforts. I hope they’ll also take this gentle poke at their video to heart and consult with a communications professional on how they can improve their messaging in the future.