Long Words Bother Me
“I am a bear of very little brain and long words bother me.”
I’m a big fan of short words. And I have a hunch. Here it is:
People in your audience like short words too.
Whenever I talk about this in presentation skills trainings and workshops, there’s always someone who has a glum look. Usually it’s an expert. He is frowning. Most often, it’s a very smart person. She is grimacing. It’s almost always a person with a high I.Q., plus the titles to match.
Here’s what he or she says:
“Do you really want me to dumb-down my research? I have big, important ideas to share. Why should I simplify it down to this overly simplistic level? What’s going to happen to society if we only speak in short words and dumb-down everything?”
I understand. It’s irritating to speak a simple language, if you believe that a complex one is better. But it is crucially important for several reasons.
Your Audience Is Overloaded
Check out the reality. Your audience is overloaded and overwhelmed. Most people are just wondering how to get through the day. If you have their bodies, the question is only: how can you captivate their minds?
The biggest question in presenting: how can you get your audience’s attention?
Your Research Is Important
Your ideas, project and research are valuable. That’s why you’re spending day and night working on it. Whatever your focus, make sure that you find a way to get your ideas out to people.
The key concept to remember: speak their language. Take the extra step to get out of your lingo and put your concepts in a message that others can easily understand.
Your Audience Can’t Understand Complex Stuff
Building on the first two points, your overloaded audience is too stressed out to pay attention and fully understand complex data, technical jargon and overly complicated stuff.
That may be disappointing. That may be annoying. But it’s the truth. It’s not that they aren’t smart enough. It’s just that they are overwhelmed and preoccupied.
It’s up to you to reduce barriers to entry. Make your message profoundly easy to understand.
The result you’re aiming for is: “Wow! I get it. You made it so easy to understand!”
Your Audience Won’t Remember Complex Stuff
On top of being overloaded, there is the question of memory. Many professionals admit to memory loss. It’s called by different names. Blanking out. Forgetting. Short attention span. By any name it is a scary situation. But, it is increasingly common.
“I know that last presenter said something important…but I just can’t recall.” These are NOT words you want anyone saying after your presentation.
Your Primary Goal Is Communication
Whether you have ‘communicator’ in your job description or not, this is your primary role. And it is the singular goal of any presentation.
It’s not to show that you are brilliant. It is not to highlight that you have profound insights. It is purely and simply to communicate directly to your audience. The goal of your presentation is to simplify complex concepts into easy-to-remember ideas…that inspire people to take action.
Short Words Work Best
While you may have brainpower for the longest words in the world, your audience does not. Simplify your message. Use short words.
Join hands with the great bear. Spread the word. Speak out against long words and complex jargon. Fight the good fight against insider lingo and gobbledygook.
Be strong. The next time you present, use a new motto: “Long words bother me.”