Are you being understood?

Clear communication saves time, money and a little embarrassment.
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
I recently met up for breakfast with half a dozen old friends at a local hotel. We had been seated at a large, round wooden table in the middle of the busy dining area. As we went to get our buffet fry-ups one of my friends requested some different eggs which required the waiter to go to the kitchens.

‘I’ll bring them out to you - which table are you sitting at?’ asked the waiter.

Pointing to another friend who was already back at the table she said ‘We are over there by that bald guy’.

‘The big round one?’ replied the waiter.

‘Yes he is a bit’ retorted my friend ‘but he is on a diet and didn’t have any pastries’.

A flustered waiter tried to explain that they meant that the table was big and round. My friend knew exactly what they meant but opted to wind them up instead.

Clear communication saves time, money, and in this case, a little embarrassment.

We can often think that because we know what we mean, it’s obvious to everybody else what we mean. The truth is that the more you know about something, the harder it is to imagine what it’s like not to know.

This is referred to as the ‘curse of knowledge’, a term coined by writer Lee LeFever that simply means our expertise in a particular topic can keep us from explaining it clearly because we make assumptions or use jargon that confuses our audience.

If we confuse our potential customers then they will simply move on to someone who they can understand. StoryBrand’s Donald Miller says that ‘people don’t buy the best products, they buy the ones they can understand the fastest’.

I used to live on a busy London high street that had lots of small independent shops. The bargain store next door had a spinning sign outside that said ‘Everything 50p, £1 or more’. It was an offer you couldn’t refuse.

You will know a lot more about your business than your potential client does - that’s why they are looking for someone to help them. When you write the copy for your websites and marketing materials it should be aimed at what your audience knows. They should be able to understand and not be confused. You do not want your potential customer to feel a little insecure because they think they really should understand something you are saying.

Whether it’s your website or your brochure, your audience should quickly be able to know three things:

1. What you do
2. How it will improve their lives
3. How they get can it

If we want our businesses to thrive we need to have a simple and clear message that is easy to understand and makes it easy for customers to do business with us. Be seen, be heard and very definitely be understood.

Anything else could leave you with egg on your face.

Do you need to communicate with clarity?

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