It’s incredibly easy to be misunderstood. What people think you are putting out is never exactly what you intend.
We all read and listen through our own brain filters, biases and broken ideas about the world.
You can’t blame your audience. It is up to us to speak and write clearly.
How can you communicate in a way that will make sure you are understood every single time?
- Use simple words – I love the English language but so many words we use have more than one meaning, plus if you make it too fancy your reader is not likely to pick up a dictionary, they will just find something else to read.
- Make it snappy – Short sentences, short paragraphs, use a phrase in place of a sentence and a word in favor of a phrase. Don’t overload your audiences brain.
- Be visual – You know what they say, a picture is worth many words. If you can’t use an actual picture, paint a picture with colorful words.
- Repeat – OK, you might get bored of saying the same things but for the people you are talking to it will likely be their first time. Repetition helps people understand. Advertisers know it takes repetition to get a point across and have it remembered.
- Rephrase – If you don’t get it right first time, try again with another approach.
- Mean what you say – Don’t say what you don’t believe. People have great BS detectors.
- Say what you mean – Don’t muddle your words trying to please everyone. Say exactly what is on your mind if you actually want people to get your point.
- Freshen up – Make your message new. If your content seems like something they have heard before you will switch off your audience.
- WIIFM – Answer “What’s in it for me?” – Get over yourself, it is about your audience not you.
- So What? – Spell out why what you are saying is important. If your audience doesn’t get why they should listen then they won’t.
It’s so easy to not be understood. Just look at poor Sverre at the top of this article. Poor Sverre, you couldn’t ask for a softer, gentler human being but for some reason people think he is frightening 🙂