When Stephen Hawkins successfully summarised the history of the universe in 236 pages for his book, ‘A Brief History of Time’, he broke records by occupying the UK best-sellers list for 234 days. Hawkins shocked academic doubters by proving how well non-genius’ respond to complex information put simply. It begs to reason that if the history of Earth and the Universe can be made digestible enough for Joe Average, it is also possible for us all to cut down on jargon.
I get it, jargon and acronyms can be useful when communicating internally but let’s be honest – when communicating externally, in practice it works similar to a Mean Girls inside joke – alienating those who don’t understand. Isn’t it better to stand out as that one company that understands both their client and their subject enough to make things simple?
We find it’s best not to assume your audience’s knowledge – as Richard Branson illustrates, “As somebody who didn’t understand the difference between net and gross for many years, despite running several billion dollar companies, I have always preferred when financial issues are explained clearly.”
Furthermore, making things complicated is one sure way to ensure people lose interest. Instead, acknowledging the typical frustrating breakdowns in communication between corporations and consumers can be the basis of quite successful marketing, as Virgin Money have displayed with this hilariously candid video, in which they explain the basics of investing.
Keeping it simple requires understanding your target and your subject material to a high level and then de-constructing both to determine the most effective way to communicate. When explaining a complex product or service, structure is key. It is important to think about the order in which your audience will have questions, and then the most logical way to go about answering them.
“If I had more time I would have written you a shorter letter” – Winston Churchill. Our Moreish Director, Simon Martin, loves (and frequently uses) this quote. It illustrates that it actually takes more time and thought to “quit your jibba jabba” and simply communicate what needs to be said in the best way. In our experience, despite the time it takes to keep it simple, it is always well worth the effort.