Last week I stopped in Powell’s to pick up a couple of birthday cards, and came across the Corporate Flashcard Pack. “Speak suit in mere days!” the box promised.
I had to laugh. I’m constantly trying to convince people to un-learn corporate speak. (Or legalese or government lingo…) We think technical language makes us sound credible, when it almost always gets in the way.
Take a client I was working with recently. About one minute into her presentation I was completely lost. Phrases like “independent distribution channels” and “fundamental performance of the index” made me completely tune out.
I mean really. Can’t we just say client instead of “end user?”
If we’re truly interested in getting our message across in a way that’s informative, engaging, and memorable, we have to drop the “corporate speak.” Instead:
1. Use the simplest language you can get away with. Instead of “revenue stream” say “monthly payments.” Don’t say, “I am herewith returning the stipulation to dismiss in the above entitled matter; the same being duly executed by me,” when you could say, “I have signed and enclosed the stipulation to dismiss the Byrd case.”* Delivering a memorable presentation is like dropping bread crumbs along a path. Throw in a word or phrase that causes confusion and your listener is now lost in the woods.
2. Incorporate stories and analogies. We learn best through stories. Our brains are wired that way. Stories are engaging and easy to remember. The number one way to make dry, boring data relatable is to pepper stories and analogies throughout.
3. Rely on nonverbal communication to deliver your message powerfully. Increase your pausing. Use purposeful gesturing. Become an excellent breather. Play around with voice patterns. Nonverbal communication transmits the majority of any message. Use less technical language and more powerful nonverbals to get your message across.
Maybe there really are people who naturally use terms like “strategic initiative” and “core competency.” But I doubt it. Every single time I stop a client and ask them to explain what they just said so I can understand it, they say, “Well, what I’m really trying to say is…” and BOOM, it makes sense.
In other words, they’re able to reverbiagize, repurposing what was formerly a pain point, thus resulting in a paradigm shift.
*Thanks to the The Trial Practice Tips Weblog for this example!