I was in Croatia and Slovenia last week, celebrating my 30th wedding anniversary.
I have no idea where my wife decided to go. I’m kidding; we were there together.
Both are beautiful countries with nice people, quality beer, and lots of silent consonants. We had a terrific time.
When we arrived in Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana (pronounced: “Las Vegas”), we had to check into our Airbnb. This was more difficult than anticipated.
The problem was that while the apartment owner had emailed step-by-step instructions regarding how to find the lockbox, get the key, access the parking garage, locate the correct parking spot, and enter the apartment (in that order), they were long and intricate.
So much so, that the two formats he provided were either a 4-minute video or a 12-page PDF. I don’t like to complain, but this thing was more complicated than my day job.
You’ll be happy to learn that we did finally crack the code and get inside, and the apartment was everything he had promised.
But… it made me realize some important things to keep in mind when sharing content.
#1. Context Matters
The Airbnb instructions were very specific. But there was no introduction along with them – I had no overall sense of how the steps fit together or why they needed to happen in the order they did.
It was like following the instructions on how to assemble something in your house without knowing what the final outcome would be. (“Is this supposed to be a bed or a gas grill?”)
Likewise, when you develop and share content, it’s important to remember that your readers and listeners also may have no context regarding what’s happening within your area of specialty.
They don’t know what the key issues are, what things to watch out for, what matters most, or even what the acronyms of your industry mean.
So if you just jump right in and start spitting out “the answers” – even if what you have to say is valuable – you’ll lose a lot of people who have no idea what you are getting at.
#2. More Simple = More Better
To our Airbnb host’s credit, he was very specific. Every step along the way demonstrated what we needed to do.
The PDF was filled with photos. And while the video didn’t function three levels down in the parking garage (oops), it was ultimately very helpful to have images and not just words.
As professionals eager to impress others, we often do exactly the opposite.
We go out of our way to employ linguistic expressions that embody a higher degree of complexity and intricacy than is strictly requisite for the purpose of effectual transmission.
Communication is not the place to impress. Short sentences and simpler words work best.
#3. You Know More Than You Realize
The first time we had to get into that Airbnb? Total confusion. The second time and every time thereafter? Easy as could be.
Once you become expert at something, it’s hard to put yourself back into the shoes of a complete novice. There’s a strong tendency to gloss over details or omit important steps.
One more reason that when we share ideas or explain concepts – to readers, listeners, clients, baristas, etc. – it’s best to aim low and start slow, until and unless we are sure they are following.
Here’s the bottom line.
If you are in the business of selling a professional service, it’s important to get in the habit of developing your thoughts and sharing them with the world.
That goes a long way in helping people understand how you think and decide whether or not they want to connect, refer, or hire you.
But it all falls apart if they can’t figure out how to get through the front door.
- Have you ever confused a bed with a gas grill? Send photos.
- What’s your favorite hard-to-pronounce city or town (please tell us how to say it correctly)?
- What are you expert in that you find difficult to explain?
Share your answers below…