This week I was listening to a gathering of (probably) excellent minds from “Great Universities” talking about one of my favourite subjects: the history of History. The program’s audience was the general public.
I tried — twice — to get through the whole podcast, but couldn’t do it.
I refuse to admit that the professors were cleverer than I am, but I had difficulty following their discussion, and more importantly, they didn’t make me care to.
(How many industry presentations have you been to, or websites have you read where you felt the same way?)
- Each speaker’s points were supported with obscure references from his very tight niche of historical study
- They spoke almost apologetically tone, that said, “My fellow historians are probably going ready to leap in and hack me to pieces for using this example in a way they disagree with, so I’d better be ready to go on the defensive.”
In other words, they used jargon, they droned, and they aimed their words at their colleagues, not at the audience.
I turned them off and have no idea what their names were.
In contrast, last week I listened to a talk by Simon Schama, a popular historian who fled the Oxford-Cambridge position he once held and has gone on to become a huge popularizer of the study of history. He talks simply, to everyday people; you can almost hear him bouncing with enthusiasm; and he clearly doesn’t care if someone criticizes him: he’s ready to engage them.
That talk left me energized, inspired and ready to sign up as a Simon Schama groupie.
Are You Engaging Your Audience
Today, take a fresh look at your documents and your company’s presentations.
- Are you using jargon (is it explained? Can you say what you mean in ‘real world’ words?)
- Are you talking to your customer, your colleagues or your competition? Make sure you are talking to your customer!
- Are you excited? Are you getting them excited? Are you showing them how your product or service can have an impact? Why they need it?
Tomorrow: The Secrets To Becoming Your Customer’s New Best Friend