• Tim Herrera

Do we deliberately complicate our messaging just to impress people?

As in so many other professions, people working in PR and communications need special skills to do their jobs. Sometimes we/they want people to know they/we are an expert. And sometimes we/they make things complex to impress (and keep) clients. Face it. I’m guilty of it, occasionally. You might be, too.

Joanna Harrod, a strategist at Signal, says PR professionals are not serving their clients well when being too technical and making matters complicated. In an opinion piece (Don’t let your agency tell you it’s complicated – The Drum) Harrod writes, “Clients look to agencies to help them navigate the noisy world of digital marketing. The last thing they need is an agency who only adds to that noise.”

People in every line of work overcomplicate their messaging with unnecessary noise. Sometimes it’s because we are too comfortable with our everyday work language. I work in education and tell school leaders “don’t talk like a textbook.” We need to talk to inform and not to impress.

That doesn’t mean we should shy away from complicated information. There’s important stuff we need to share and are paid to share. Blogger Anita Bruzzese writes “Just because the information is complex doesn’t cancel out the need to be a good storyteller and convey your information in a way that educates and moves your listeners to action.” So, according to Bruzzese, we must use stories to better explain our ideas. And we must to tell those stories without jargon. It’s not always easy but it’s better for our message receivers.

Whether it’s digital marketing or health care or a cake recipe, plainly explaining things helps create a digestible message to the people we are feeding our messages. We often use words we are familiar with because we take shortcuts or we are trying to impress people with our knowledge. Don’t take shortcuts. Don’t try to impress.

Writer Thorin Klosowski finds one of the key ways to making complex information understandable is to make it relatable. He wrote, “We tend to learn best when we're interested in something and we're interested in topics when they relate to us directly.”

Make your messaging relatable. The more relatable, the more understandable, the greater the connection.

(Tim Herrera is the author of Media Training: A Guide to Giving Great Interviews and several other books on communications.)

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