In his blog Graham Jones recently examined the need to write your business blog as if you were writing for children. To make your blog or website easy to understand you should aim to write for a reading age of 7. This blog has a reading age of 13 to 14, so I still have some way to go to make it better.
But more importantly it made me think about the “hearing age” of presentations. That is, applying the same measurement style as used for “reading age” to the words that you say when giving a presentation.
When giving a talk you should try to make it as easy as possible for people to follow what you are saying. Because if they have to concentrate too hard, for too long most people will just stop listening. Then all your lovingly prepared presentation is going to waste.
You don’t want to talk down to people, just make it easy for them to listen.
To lower the “hearing age” of your presentation you should talk in short sentences, avoid using long , multi-syllable words when short plain words will do. Avoid unnecessary jargon and technical terms.
Some of the worst presentations I have sat through have been full of what I refer to as “brochure talk”. They are full of corporate statements such as ” Our core competency is the provision of integrated solutions which cause a paradigm shift through the rigorous performance management of your human resources capability”.
What that actually means in plain english is anyone’s guess.
I remember one person who came on one of my courses. When it came to the practical he started talking using a pre-written script. It sounded very formal and staid. Then half way through he stopped using the script and just started talking about his personal experiences. The second part of his presentation was far livelier, far more interesting and I’m sure it had a far lower reading age than his original script.
Your speed of delivery has a similar effect. Talk too quickly and they will stop listening. You should talk slightly slower than you would in a normal one to one conversation. This allows people to hear what you have said, take it in and then listen to the next bit.
So it is not just your business blog that should be written for children, it is your business presentations as well.