This is One Time to Think Small

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Leaving the Mary Poppins song aside as an exception to the rule, audiences don’t do well with long words, technical terms, or industry lingo. Remember that communication is a sender-receiver relationship. Your talk is only as good as someone’s ability to receive and understand it.

Yet, one of the most frequent faux pas we encounter is a speaker who insists on including jargon and complex wording in his presentation. We even included it in our video series: Talk Like Someone’s Listening: Short Words, Big Impact.

We often hear clients throw around terms, whether scientific or business alphabet soup, that are unfamiliar to their audience. And it happens for a variety of reasons. Some don’t realize that these terms are unknown, some resist using different words for fear of looking less professional or smart.

Let’s be very clear. We are NOT suggesting dumbing down material, but there is a need to make it accessible to an audience that may not work in your lab, your company, or your field.

Just the other day I worked with a speaker who has made significant scientific discoveries that could lead to life-saving medicines for millions of people with diabetes. He spoke at length about certain types of tissues in the body using medical terms. I listened intently trying to follow his research, but I kept getting stuck questioning, where the tissue was, why was it important? It was a building block that I needed to understand the rest of his talk. When he finished, I asked him to define it. He said, “it’s fat.” Simple as that, I gained an understanding of this critical piece and was then able to understand the rest of the research. Without the definition, I was stuck.

If you truly want to influence people, share research, change minds, or impact an audience, than the goal of the talk is not to demonstrate that you are the smartest person in the room. It’s to ensure that your audience truly understands and cares about what you want to share.

Want to view all the Talk Like Someone’s Listening videos? You can find them here.