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Advice from Outside the Square

Four Steps To Simplify Your Message

Four Steps To Simplify Your Message

Do you want to explain difficult facts to clients? Do you want to get a sales message across?

The first few seconds of any interaction is critical, whether you know the other person or not.

This is particularly important in any business interaction today where people’s time seem so limited, people seem so aware of “that sales pitch” coming and are ready to tune off. Today’s SMS and social media world seem to do nothing but ready for us to listen to tweets.

If you want to put your business message across, whether it is advice, technical information or a sales pitch you need to tune yourself and your communication to that frequency which is most clear.

I have found that the best way to do this is to use four simple steps in any business communication.

First, meet people where they are, in order to take people to where you want them to go.

If you want someone to understand your message, you need to understand what they care about. They may care about cost, or they may care about ease of use, or indeed they may care about something human like not being embarrassed. Understand their hot buttons, and acknowledge it before you go from there.

For example if someone doesn’t care about the quality engineering of your product, don’t start talking about its fine precision qualities. Find first a common concern. Find the problem for which they need a solution (not necessarily your product) then work from there. Their problem may be not having enough people who know how to use your product – work from that to see if you can offer easy and economical training and transition.

As yourself if what you are trying to say to them is actually appropriate to them where they are now? People like working with people who “get it”.

The second step to take is to strip your message of insider jargon!

Use every day words that everybody can understand and leave industry-speak behind. If you are a doctor explaining your diagnosis to a patient, please don’t say “myocardial infarction”!

Using industry jargon does NOT show you know your stuff, it gives them the impression you don’t care enough about their comprehension. And we all know how we feel about know-it-alls don’t we?

Number three, get rid of all EXTRA details.

In today’s world we hold so much information that we want to explain it all because it all makes sense to us. Avoid this temptation.

Start with details about yourself or your product or your advice, then give details that strategically move your story forward in this meeting. Additional details are not required.

For example if you explain tax, give details of your research in regard to your work on the client’s tax problem (not about how your love for music led you to this tax research), then give details about the tax and how it affects the client – don’t give details about the legislative history of the tax.

Finally step 4 is to tie it all together.

A good way to do this is to test the message with people outside your normal circle. Give them the message intended for the customer and ask them if they understood it.

People inside your circle will support you and think like you so they will understand your message and mentally fill in any blanks or delete any over-detail. But people outside your circle will be more able to highlight the gaps and narrative of your message.

Who should you test on? People you have just met but are in the industry as well, people like your intended audience, people you know but don’t know you that well.

What about you? What tips and traps have you found when you are trying to communicate a difficult message?

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