17 Oct 2014by Georgie Cousens

Say What you mean. Mean what you say

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” – Albert Einstein

say what you mean mean what you say

Sometimes we develop a tendency to overuse ‘sophisticated’ words and make our writing or presentations so complicated that our audience just zone out and may disappear altogether. This often happens when we prepare long documents as well as presentations and lengthy talks. We tend to slip words into a presentation that aren’t natural to us, because we’ve practiced it over and over, and dropping in a ‘fancy’ word here and there makes the presentation sound better to our own ears. The problem however, is that when we talk ‘naturally’ again after the presentation (in the Q&A section for example) we quickly appear inconsistent, untrue and lose credibility and trust.

Of course using important, complicated and technical terms does have its place. It might in fact create respect in our audience, and if we’re lucky the audience may even think that we’re clever – but we risk appearing inconsistent and even worse: fake.

If you want to make a point and want to ensure it gets communicated to your audience, there is no need to use only ‘important’ words. Exactly the opposite is the case, in fact. To get your point across more effectively, you need to talk the language of your audience. Make them feel you’re one of them. You need to talk TO your audience rather than AT them.

If you use ‘important’ words to make you appear something you’re not, then you risk using the wrong words in the wrong context and actually giving false information and statements. Not a good thing.

Keep it simple so that everyone is able to understand and follow you. And to make sure no one falls asleep. Don’t assume your audience understands or has the same technical knowledge that you have. After all, that is the reason why you’re presenting. You’re likely to have knowledge your audience doesn’t have. So for a successful presentation, always keep in mind that you need to make sure your audience understands what you’re talking about.

All this is equally important with writing. If you’re in a technical field you tend to create your own language. When you’re surrounded by a lot of like-minded people in the same field, you very easily forget that not everyone understands this language. So when you have to give a talk or presentation, and your audience is not necessarily in your field of expertise, please use ‘common language’. Even though your ‘work language’ might seem the most natural thing to you – it won’t to everyone.

For a lot of people, especially in technical industries, it’s hard to turn this off.  And in these cases it’s worthwhile to outsource writing to a professional copywriter. Not only will a copywriter keep the audience in mind and get the point across efficiently, chances are high that a professional copywriter will do this in less time than the not-so-experienced writer.

Did you know that we have professional copywriters on our team at Ideaseed? What’s even better is that if you have to turn your text into a visually appealing presentation or report, we can do that too. Send us an email today, let’s get the ball rolling.

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2 thoughts on “Say What you mean. Mean what you say

  • Dave Reyburn

    Too many clients, especially in tech and healthcare, fail also to leverage the power of human curiosity and self-interest in their communications. No one, from PhDs to drywall hangers, care about what a product does. Only what it does for them. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Georgie Cousens

      We couldn’t agree more Dave. Communication is a two way conversation, whether that conversation be a presentation, report or blog! For it to be of value to both parties we need to address our audience rather than focus on our own message. We also need to make sure how we address our audience engages them to respond.

      Reply

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