If you’re in the A/E/C (Architecture/Engineering/Construction) industry, you’ve probably heard of Matt Handal’s blog Help Everybody Everyday; it is a must read. [Even if you’re not in the industry and still get new clients via proposals, you need to read his blog.] Matt was in New Orleans recently and we got a chance to meet face-to-face, share some stories, and pick each other’s brains. Matt interviewed me on the topic, Win More Shortlist Presentations and shared it on his blog.
Here is a snippet from the interview:
How do you know when you are “dumbing it down” vs. when you are “simplifying” it. How do you recognize the difference?
When a person says dumbing it down, it connotates one person is better than the other. That is derogatory, faulting the audience for not knowing what you know. It does not showcase a friendly, trustworthy, team-minded viewpoint the selection committee or project owner needs.
My application of simplifying is taken from a form of educating I was introduced to called interpretation. Interpretation is not translating one language to another. It educating the value of what appears meaningless.
In my application in the professional world, it means explaining your work to the audience’s level and not using industry jargon and high-level terminology. This concept of simplifying is also rooted in education and connotates that one person is knowledgeable, courteous, and patient enough to meet the needs of his/her listeners.
You recognize the difference by analyzing the words you are using while speaking. If the message is a lecture or you find yourself talking to the audience, you are likely dumbing it down. If you find yourself getting nodding heads and you feel as if you are in a two-way conversation then you are simplifying.
This mindset changes everything. It may be a subtle difference but you’ll find big results in feedback.