Dani Ward

Designer | Teacher | Consultant

On speaking clearly.

Why clear communication is more important than technical language.

Many of us work in specialized industries that all have a unique vocabulary. Since we spend 8 hours or more of our day working in these unique environments, it’s easy to assume anyone you’re talking to understands your everyday language. But chances are your customers, vendors, clients, and users don’t have the same level of education and experience in your field that you do. Using industry-insider jargon can quickly alienate people you’re trying to reach.

If you want to positively impact your audience, speaking clearly is incredibly important. Here are a few things to keep in mind during your next interaction with someone outside your business.

Speak simply.

Your company’s field — and thus vocabulary — may be entirely new to your client. Words and practices you take for granted may not be as intuitive to the person you’re talking to as they are to you. It’s certainly okay to use technical terms. They exist for a reason: to more succinctly describe specific tasks, functions, or experiences. Just make sure you define the terms you’re using. You want to make sure that everyone feels respected while ensuring that you’re all on the same page. Simplicity and clarity trump technicality.

Focus on who you’re talking to.

It’s easy to get swept up in the story you’re trying to sell your client or customer. That’s not what will reach them, though. Focus on their story. Why are they talking to you? What are their needs? What can you do for them that will help them meet their goals? By focusing on the person you’re talking to rather than focusing on your own business, you’re far more likely to make a positive impression and actually meet their needs.

Be specific.

Sometimes it’s easy to assume everyone is following along. It can be difficult for someone unfamiliar with your business to ask you to clarify something they’re afraid they should already know. Be specific in all of your communication, whether on the web, in person, or through email. Make sure you reference all involved aspects and persons: the project, the problem, the solution, actionable items. Restate what has been communicated to you to make sure you’re understanding correctly, and be sure to check in with everyone to make sure they’re up to speed.

Speaking clearly is an integral part of successful communication, from one-on-one conversations to advertising and marketing. Going out of your way to communicate clearly tells your clients that you care and builds the foundation for a lasting business relationship.

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