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Don’t be afraid of simplicity – 4 top tips for communicating information clearly and simply

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Image of the post author Philip Steggals

We have all fallen into the trap at some point in our lives. It could be at an important client meeting, an internal discussion, or even a family gathering. We speak for a while, throwing in some fancy or elaborate words or dropping in some acronyms or jargon so that we can confirm to our audience that we are speaking with authority. Then, the dreaded question. “I’m sorry, I don’t understand, what does that mean?”

Within any professional service, there is a tendency to think that the ‘methods & language’ that we use, and our internal jargon is of vital importance. I fear that market researchers might be some of the worst culprits. In my years, I have seen so much emphasis put on the ‘look how smart we are’ that people lose sight of what we should be discussing (thankfully this is not the case at Kadence). 

As a father of a 2-year-old daughter, I have started to have to communicate in a completely different way, often in response to the phrase, “No, I don’t want to”. Slowly breaking down what I am saying and using simple language has become the norm. I have recently read a book that really brought this to life for me. Yanis Varoufakis, former finance minister of Greece and renowned Economist has written a book called ‘Talking to my daughter, a brief history of capitalism’ that takes this example further. In his book Varoufakis using simple language and analogies to explain to his teenage daughter the history (and implications) of the global economy. It is a very accessible, enjoyable read, and makes complex geopolitical arguments easily accessible. 

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What we come to recognize, is that it takes a greater confidence to be able to speak without the use of jargon. If you can get your point across in the most basic terms, in an engaging and clear way – your audience will recognize you for what you are. A storyteller. If you hide behind jargon, then you will quickly be found out as someone that cannot get their story across. 

At Kadence, we work with many nationalities. We are a multicultural office in Singapore, and we work on multi-market studies for many multi-national companies. As such, we have to recognize the best way to get our points across. Whenever I speak to an audience, I try to keep the following tips in mind.

4 top tips for communicating information clearly and simply

  • Understand your audience. Who are you speaking to? Are they researchers or are they clients with a limited understanding of research terms?
  • Relatable Examples. Perhaps the most powerful tip of all: equating a complicated situation to a more simple process or example (ideally one that is universal and not dependent on cultural nuance) 
  • Pay attention to how you are received. Are people nodding along, or staring blankly? Asking questions as you go is a great way to gain understanding about what is being taken in
  • Practice with people outside the industry. The fail-safe. Check with a friend or loved one to see whether they can understand what you are trying to say! 
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