What differentiates a clear presentation from a vague one? Yes, sometimes the underlying message of the presentation isn’t well thought out. But too often the message itself is not the problem – it is poor use of language that is muddying the message.
Today’s blog is about using precise and accurate language to ensure the clarity and quality of your presentation. Admittedly, the title says nothing about accuracy, but “language as an accurate instrument,” just doesn't have the same ring.
So, let’s look at three ways you can clean up your language:
Say exactly what you mean
This might seem like an obvious guideline, but is not always applied. I often see language that is approximate to the meaning the presenter would like to convey. Take for example the words “precise” and “accurate.” They are often used interchangeably – but they do not mean the same thing. “Precise” means being exactly that – nothing more or less, whereas “accurate” means free from error. You should choose the words that most accurately portray what you mean.
Use a language your audience understands
You may be wondering, who would speak German to a Spanish speaking audience? While in the most basic sense you must communicate in a common language, you must also be aware of the jargon and acronyms you are using with each audience. Financial analysts will have a different level of technical understanding than a group of CIOs. As a result, you must adjust your language to accommodate your audience.
Select powerful words, not more of them
The Oxford dictionary lists over 250,000 words in the English language. But they are not all created (or used) equally. Your presentation should use words that add power and meaning to your message, as opposed to bogging it down with industry or academic jargon. Several short, pithy sentences will have a much greater impact than 1 compound sentence.
I’d be interested in hearing your approach and anecdotes for cleaning up the language within a presentation. Comment below to share your story!