Commentaries

Making Sense of the Bard

By Elin Odegaard on September 4, 2013

This summer, a colleague and I took to the stage to perform in a local production of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.” We had a great time sword fighting with umbrellas and randomly spouting melodramatic lines of verse.

One of the things I find fascinating about Shakespeare is how much of the language has survived over the past 400 years. When confronted with the idea of Shakespeare, many people get hung up on how difficult it is to understand the text because of unfamiliar words or phrases and cultural references that are unknown to us. But when you think about it, much more of the language has survived than not. Many of the phrases and idioms are familiar to us, and most of the jokes are still quite funny.

Even so, when reading Shakespeare, I often need to reread passages or consult other sources to understand the full meaning behind certain scenes or events, or to catch an obscure joke, even if I am otherwise able to follow the general storyline. But seeing one of his plays performed is another story. Passages that were confusing when read are made clear on stage. Meanings of unknown words are suddenly defined. A joke that previously earned a chuckle now garners a guffaw.

The mode of communication makes all the difference. Yes, it’s nice to read Shakespeare’s plays, but he didn’t write them so they could be read. They were meant to be performed. On stage, more tools are available to get the message across. Actors interpret the language and give it cadence, tone and emphasis. Costumes and sets transport you to another time or place. Facial expressions and body language convey what a character is feeling, and action is the universal sign language – a sword fight is a sword fight in every language, even if you’re using umbrellas!

Additional tools for delivering your message are available in business communications, as well – if you know where to look for them. Are you utilizing all the platforms that are open to you? From print advertising to direct mail, web to social media, opportunities abound for reaching your key audiences. And is your message being communicated clearly in your chosen markets? Like Shakespeare, your toolbox contains more than language. Well-crafted copy is made more effective by thoughtful design, intentional color and font choices, appropriate photography or illustration, quality production and timely delivery. We can help you sift through the choices, craft a message that fits your brand, and ensure that it is heard and understood by your stakeholders.

Play on!

About Elin

Elin joined the Neuger Communications Group team in 2004. Her exceptional design skills have shaped countless beautiful print pieces, websites and e-communications projects for a wide variety of clients. Elin also lends her experience and insight to communications audits, branding strategies and other endeavors. She is the undisputed typography expert of the office, and after her month-long Rotary-sponsored tour of Sweden in 2014 she can undoubtedly converse about “fönts” in at least two languages. Read More »

Back to Commentaries

Recent Commentaries

See all commentaries