“He’s so smart. I can’t understand half of he’s talking about.” I heard that said of a speaker not long ago. I couldn’t disagree more. Good communication takes into account your target audience and tries to create a bridge between the message and the audience it’s trying to reach. Great communicators do now show off how much they know about a subject to the point of overwhelming or confusing someone else. That’s the fodder of insecure, pseudo intellectuals who want to make sure you know they are smarter than you at any chance they get. One of the challenges I face as a consultant is to help my clients to communicate clearly and effectively.
The longer we are a part of an organization, a movement, an industry, the more likely we are to create and adapt to our own language, ideas, and set of standards that often miss communicate our message to those in the outside. I call it “insider language.” In Christian circles we often use theological terms to speak to non-Christians. Terms like “redemptive” and “eschatological” might win you points with your Bible study or seminary friends, but will, most often, fail to communicate with those outside the faith.
Great communicators do now show off how much they know to the point of overwhelming or confusing someone else. That’s the fodder of insecure, pseudo intellectuals who want to make sure you know they are smarter than you.
In Brazil, people use language as a way to differentiate their social status. The more formal education you have, the more unintelligible you become to those less fortunate. That’s not communicating. It’s snobbery. I’m not, however, advocating lowering our intellectual standards so we can serve the lowest common denominator, but we must be able to change our language, and not our message, for the sake of our audience.
Does your business, ministry or church uses insider language?