One thing that experienced public speakers know is that when presenting to a broad audience, you need to go back to a common and unified language so they don’t scatter in confusion. Even though it’s fun to sound smart—and yes, to confound others with your awesome smarty-pantness—this hinders the adoption of your idea when you’re speaking to a group that isn’t as specialized as you are.

Speaking in jargon carries penalties in a society that values speech free from esoteric, incomprehensible bullshit. Speaking over people’s heads may cost you a job or prevent you from advancing as far as your capabilities might take you otherwise

– Carmine Gallo

If your idea requires the use of special terminology, you must be prepared to translate it into intelligible words that laymen can understand. It’s imperative that you know how and when to switch between specialized and common language. Don’t choose words that fall outside your listener’s vocabulary. Tailor your language to what the audience uses.

For example, a great Nobel Laureate in Physiology, Barbara McClintock, discovered in the 1940s that genes are responsible for turning physical characteristics on or off. However, her groundbreaking research was greeted with skepticism and wasn’t fully understood until the 1970s because of her communication style. McClintock had a vivid inner vision and a rapid-fire delivery. She would often leap back and forth from microscopic observation, to model, to conclusion, to result—all in a single sentence! Most audiences were ill-prepared, or simply too lazy, to work hard enough to master the data that poured forth from her. The way she communicated caused her findings to lie hidden for years!

Jargon isn’t confined to specialized professions. Many good ideas die because the presenter doesn’t have the proper communication training and they fail to navigate the very organization where they originate. Different departments within the same entity often use different languages, which can create internal confusion. In some meetings, more acronyms are spoken than real words.

Niche language with which you may be comfortable can sound unintelligible to a broad audience. An audience will not adopt your idea unless they understand it.

Your idea’s perceived value will be judged not so much on the idea itself, but on how well you can communicate it. Are you interested in some public speaking training from a leader in the industry? Take a look at some of the presentation services Duarte offers.

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