I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by a lot of smart people. At Cisco I work with some incredibly talented teams. Some of my friends are university lecturers, teachers and small business owners. My fiancée has a doctorate in micro-biology.
But the really smart ones? They’re the ones who can explain what it is they do in simple terms. Ernest Rutherford, the Nobel Prize winning nuclear physicist said “An alleged scientific discovery has no merit unless it can be explained to a barmaid” But, of course, in our house you have to replace barmaid with brand manager.
When you’re talking about your company, your product or even your idea you need to do the work for your audience. Don’t assume that they have the same academic background as you. The same references. The same first language. Don’t assume they’ll be impressed by your ability to accurately use a semi-colon. Don’t dazzle them with your lexicon: all the long words you know.
Sometimes you have to use a bit of jargon: to show you’re following the conversation, to prove you can speak their language. But using too much can make you sound like you don’t know actually know what it means. If you think your audience might not know what a word means, take a second to explain, they’ll thank you for it.
You’re not here to show off, you’re here to inspire action. And people are much more likely to act if you’ve made them feel welcome, included and most of all, if they can actually understand you!
Which companies do this best? And who is the biggest offender? Let me know in the comments below.
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