Simple Does Not Mean Dumb! That is my rant because many speakers misunderstand “simplification” as “dumbing it down”, but that is simply not true. People avoid simplification because they think it weakens their message, in fact, it does the opposite. Thinking that you’re dumbing down your message so your audience can understand you is the wrong mindset and it is derogatory because your audience isn’t dumb. So I repeat myself, simple does not mean dumb!
Sometimes this confusion about the purpose of simplification is why I do not work with some presenters. One prospective client told me, “I have to talk that way [at a higher level] because if I don’t, the prospect will doubt my expertise.” Studies about sales and understanding prove my experiences right. Have you ever heard someone say, “Wow, that person uses words and concepts that I don’t understand, he/she must be so smart that I must hire him/her.” No, you haven’t. Instead, people want to hire smart people that can simplify their message to your level, so you comfortably understand them. Many people don’t outwardly say this because it is subconscious; they probably say something like, “I just feel more comfortable with this expert.”
When you are steadfast on speaking in words loaded with jargon, acronyms, and buzzwords, you narrow your audience. You narrow your audience to fellow experts that understand you, and they won’t buy your expertise because they already know it.
Think about it this way, wouldn’t you want your target audience to be as wide as possible. Even niche experts want a wide audience because that means more people hear their message, leading to more prospective buyers and more deals. Getting more closed deals is every business professionals goal.
When preparing your presentation, make sure you’re not talking “in code” that only your peers would understand because industry jargon limits you how far your message can carry. If you do not know your audience, then you must start at a lower baseline and build upon their by defining keywords and concepts. Also, say the full name of acronyms like ROI being Return On Investment. The only exception to this rule is when people are more likely to know the acronym instead of the full name like IBM instead of International Business Machines. If you don’t simplify, you have a gigantic risk of talking over your audience’s heads.