June 30, 2011

Don’t Be Afraid to Dumb it Down

“Dumb it down.” It’s one of my favorite storytelling phrases, especially when I’m talking with people who are smarter than me. Big words and technical jargon can be hard to understand. When you really want someone to understand what you are saying, sometimes you have to dumb it down and speak in words that are easier to grasp.

Here’s an example: Right now we are working on a video project for a hospital featuring some state-of-the-art surgical procedures. The idea is to show the high level of care available at the hospital. But the procedures are complicated. It would be very easy to get bogged down in medical details and lose sight of the real purpose of the videos.

So we’ve decided to tell these stories from the patient perspective. The idea is to have real patients share their own experiences. The surgeons explain how the technology combined with their skill benefits the patient.

If you want to get your point across, think about the way you tell your story. Do you speak in words that make sense to most people? If not, don’t be afraid to dumb it down.

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