Speak to be Understood

Have you ever been put off by someone dropping into jargon? It could be in print or in talking. It doesn't matter the subject. It's could be just beyond your understanding or beyond your caring. I get that.

Here's a secret, there may be times you created that reaction in someone else. I'll give you a moment to get over your shock.

Think about it for a moment. Have you ever noticed that blank look on the face of the person you're speaking to? Have people suddenly excused themselves from a conversation?

Two groups come to mind as being particularly guilty of speaking in jargon, medical doctors and scientists. In listening to them you may suddenly feel the glaze coming over your own eyes and the hair on the top of your head moving as what they say goes straight over your head. You may be like me and want them to share what they're saying in a way you understand. Melissa Marshall did a great job talking about this desire in her TED talk, "Talk Nerdy to Me."

In deciding what to say, think about your audience. What do they need and what do they want? Some people want the full story, others want to know the ending before you begin. Starting from these questions, dive into your content. Along the way, check in with your audience to see if they've kept up and take responsibility if they haven't.

In the end, don't you want to be heard and to be understood? Think about your audience. Ask questions yourself. You may want to ask for support.

Originally published on LinkedIn on June 6, 2018. Link in title.