Communicate Simply

We have this Message Of the Day that is plastered at the top of our support queue. We use it share something of insight to the team, it’s not always insightful but it’s usually quite amusing. Today was no different.

Today’s message of the day was provided by our Founder, Daniel Cid, and it went a little something like this:

Me to my dad: “I’m a security architect and I do malware research”. My dad to his friends: “My son fixes computers. He can fix yours”

That made me laugh hysterically because it reminded me of my own conversations with my mom a few years back and it went a little something like this:

Me to my mom: “I’m an Geospatial subject matter expert for the Department of Defense. My goal is to design and implement enterprise solutions for the management and analysis of our spatially enabled assets.” My mom to her friends: “My son makes maps.”

Why do we communicate like this? We have this need to overcomplicate and pump up the things we do, why? Does it really make it sounds that more prestigious? Do we think it helps drive the point home?

In Daniel’s case it was just a blatant misunderstanding of what he did. In my case it was an oversimplification, but was it? Which did you understand? Regardless though, it’s what was understood. So was the issue in the message or the delivery of the message? I’d argue it was in the delivery of the message.

Interestingly enough TechCrunch put out a post this November titled: Why Startup Entrepreneurs Need to Communicate More Like George Bush Than Al Gore. In it there were a number of good points but there was one that run home with me:

It’s just that I see them for what they are — overly complicated explanations to appear smart and inability to simplify a message.

I won’t pretend to try and understand the psychology behind this, but what I can do is think about myself. What is my own reaction when I hear what appears to be bad case of dictionary diarrhea being flung at my ears? I often find myself lost in the noise and wondering about lunch, dinner, or maybe what other task I have to prepare for. Even when reading an article or trying to digest an IRS publication.

Speaking of the IRS publications… why couldn’t they have just written that in plain people tongue? Why do I have to spend days reading, rereading, digesting every line and asking for verification? It just seems to complicated, doesn’t it? Ok, I digress…

Those are rhetorical questions by the way…

Back to the point, regardless of our intellect I would argue that most of us really prefer to talk simply with each other.

Although most of the post by TC is tailored to the startup entrepreneur I think their points are things we can all take away as people:

  1. Simplify Your Message
  2. Create Visual Metaphors
  3. Be Human
  4. Don’t Divert From Your Core Message
  5. Don’t Exaggerate

So my challenge to you, next time someone asks what you do, can you explain it simply? For instance, here is what I do:

I detect and remove viruses from websites.

Leave a Comment