One of the biggest gripes I have with people (myself included) is that we aren’t the best at…well, expressing ourselves clearly. We’re pretty good at things like naming what TV shows we like, what kind of foods we prefer and what movie may have seen over the weekend.
But when it comes to telling our own story (especially in business), quite often what comes out is something close to the Charlie Brown teacher…
Just a lot of jibberish that only makes sense to those who are used to the internal shorthand of the team. With friends, this kind of thing can pass – we all have our own little picadillos and nicknames that only make sense to our individual tribes.
However, in the business of communications, how can we let this happen? There are lots of websites, press kits, etc. out there that are about as useful as a floppy disk for an iMac G3 (internal dialogue: ‘NERD’). Like Peppermint Patty, did we fall asleep in the midst of translating the ‘kwaah-kwaah-kwaah’ (Charlie Brown Teacher speak) for the masses?
Quite simply, I believe that we’ve taken for granted that outside audiences will ‘get it’ when they read your materials – be it a website, a company fact sheet, a BIO, whatever. But unless your external audience is comprised of people from your board room, it is safe to say that no one will ‘get it.’
It is with this in mind that I offer up three tips to keep in mind when helping your audience ‘get it’…
Take a Quick Look: take a look at what you have drafted up (be it copy for your client’s website, a press kit, etc.) and take a quick snapshot of one piece. Does this one piece look like something that would make sense to your target audience? Is it filled with jargon or industry-speak that can only be understood by 10% of your audience?
Take a Breather: it’s quite easy to get so entrenched with your own work that your fuzzy parts start looking clear. It’s kind of like working at a chicken farm or at a cattle ranch – pretty soon you forget about ‘the smell’ until some ‘city folk’ come in to remind you of the stench. You need to give yourself a break to get some outside air and perspective.
Bring In An Outsider: be it someone from your team who’s not involved with the drafting of the ‘working documents,’ a colleague that’s familiar with your particular industry or a family member, give someone else a look-see. Having a fresh point of view on what you already have working almost always leads to improvements.
So, communicators: what do you think? What other things have you done to help bring some clarity to your client’s materials? What have you done to help people on the outside ‘get it’ for your clients?
______________________________________________________This post was cross-posted on Waxing Unlyrical – a blog that is owned and operated by the wonderfully savvy and smart Shonali Burke.