Mind your Language

When you are speaking to a group it helps to speak the same language, and I’m not talking about English or French.communication

Last week I talked about some specifics of how you communicate, and this week I’m talking about your audience.  What language do they speak?

Almost every industry has their own lingo or vernacular – words specific to their industry.

A big mistake would be to use the language of your industry when speaking to people from another industry.  Better to become familiar with theirs so you can blend in, and demonstrate that you have done your homework.

This can be difficult when you don’t even realize how much of your own language is industry-specific, so err on the side of caution and use layman’s language to get your point across.

For example, as a physiotherapist in my past life, I know all the technical names of muscles and joints but I’m not going to speak to you about clavicles and patellae.  You might know these terms, but I’m better off speaking to you about your collarbone and kneecaps.

Pretty obvious, but you might be surprised at the words you take for granted.

What brought this topic about was a conversation I had with a client this week.  She helps business with finances and wants to bring more spirituality into her topics and into the workplace.

I saw two problems with this – ‘spirituality’ can seem like a big departure from what she is currently doing, and that word could turn away a lot of businesses.  It might seem too ‘woo-hoo’ (that’s a technical word commonly used in my coaching world.)

One word can do this, because we each have our own interpretation of what ‘spirituality’ might mean.    I dug deeper and asked my client to help me understand what she meant by spirituality and then it all clicked into place.

Everything she described could go under the banner of personal leadership and there were pieces of communication and relationships also.  Topics I was well familiar with and topics I know are more readily accepted and needed by corporations.

All of these topics speak the language of business and corporations, and helps them to see why they would want my client’s services.  Plus it was something I could see  her incorporate into her current work more readily and  even immediately.

That’s not to say that spirituality and business do not mix – it’s just being aware of what language will help you connect best with your audience and target market.

So three things to take away from this:

1. Know your audience – do your homework and become familiar with terms they might use.  Hey, it might even pave the way to get a laugh.

2. Listen to your client – if you are planning to speak to groups from an organization or corporation, you will initially have a discussion about their needs.  What are their challenges?  Listen to the words they use, so you can use them too – in your proposal, in your sales process and in your presentation/workshop.

3. Listen to yourself – are you speaking the same language as your audience – whether it’s an audience of one or many?

I personally love listening to my clients and helping them come out with their core message and topics that they can best help others with. If you would like help with your message and how to share it, then please contact me using the slide-out Contact tab to set up a conversation.

Next week I’ll share more with you about selling what they want and giving what they need and let you in on a new cool word that describes it beautifully.

…and, if you have any cool examples to share here about language barriers, then please comment.