“Caddy held me and I could hear us all, and the darkness, and something I could smell. And then I could see the windows, where the trees were buzzing. Then the dark began to go in smooth, bright shapes, like it always does, even when Caddy says that I have been asleep.”
The nonsensical quote above is from one of William Faulkner’s most well known novels, The Sound and the Fury. If you are like me, you cringed as you read it remembering days long ago when this fell on your required reading list. This book, and one of his others, appear on the top 25 most challenging books you’ll ever read list, and for good reason. While the story and plot are truly moving, it is hard to find them through the jumbled text, incorrect punctuation, and inflated vocabulary tossed about. One person actually noted if you read Faulkner aloud, the sentences just fall out and come together.
Take a Minute
Sit back and think about that…what if each blog you wrote, email you sent to a client, or piece of marketing your client interacted with (either online or in-person), they had to re-read it aloud to understand it? In a time when everyone’s attention span is akin to the lifespan of a mayfly, how long do you think you hold your audience’s interest if they have to read, then re-read a piece aloud? Hopefully you said “not long” because I really, really don’t want your poor clients walking around reading out loud to themselves while reading your latest piece!
Sanitize the Jargon
During a client meeting earlier this week, we were talking about streamlining a piece and they used a great phrase I am happily borrowing today: “sanitize the jargon”. I’ve heard reference made to keeping language at a 4th grade reading level, or K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple, Silly), when referring to the presentation of information, but never “sanitize the jargon”, but it makes perfect sense. When you speak with colleagues or peers in your industry, you fall into a comfortable pattern utilizing known acronyms, terms, or even inside jokes, but when you try to have the same conversation with a friend, spouse, or especially a client/potential client, they don’t understand any of it! When we don’t understand something or feel like we are not included in the conversation, we lose interest, so why are you alienating your audience using fancy industry speak in your communications?
KISS and Tell Me What to Do
- As mentioned above, remove the jargon (acronyms, industry speak, etc…)
- Know Your Audience, and then talk to them like a friend sharing information.
- Understand the sharing platform (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook) and all its nuances, such as where it’s appropriate to use hashtags, where you should use more pictures, and where you need to keep it pretty buttoned up.
- Test your material. This can either be with a friend or colleague in a different department, or you can use online tools that “grade” your work in terms of readability.
As with everything else, take a step back, look at your work objectively and through the lens of a non-expert and more often than not, the answers will come. I am even going to provide you with a helpful tool to get you started knowing your audience. See…simple!
This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: KISS For Success
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