A friend of mine recently took up just about the most interesting hobby I've come across. He has spent the past few months taking workshops in standup comedy. I'd imagine that standing up on stage and actually trying to make people laugh ON PURPOSE must be one of the most intimidating tasks out there. For that I commend him.
In talking to him about the experience and what it's like he shared something thing that I believe should be a lesson that should be given to folks like me that work in marketing. During one of his early comedy lessons the instructor shared with them one of the golden rules of comedy: "Never talk down to your audience… assume they are smart enough to get the joke."
How profound. In the context of a joke, adding unnecessary explanation and clutter to your deliver simply renders the punch line UN-funny. In marketing the same type of behavior can render whatever message you're trying to convey overly confusing. To my dismay, I've been guilty of this. I've been guilty of failing to give my audience enough credit.
I can't help but think this simply boils down to having a better understanding of your audience. Understand their background; understand their expectations. In short know what matters most to them.
I work in the B2B space selling software that manages datacenters. Something that I've found myself guilty of is over-explaining the things that my products did. Sometimes even down to describing basic concepts. In retrospect I've now realize that keeping those slides a part of my presentations, not only made my presentations too long, but they also rendered my message overly complex, or worse, condescending. IT professionals don't need to be told what a computer is or what a storage array is. Heck, most of the time they just want to get to the point, they simply want to know what the result of using my products will be, and if those results align to whatever needs they have. Simple right? Turns out not so much if you spend some time reading enterprise datacenter management software brochures.
I've now begun my journey down the road of trusting that my audience will get the joke….