I replied to a tweet the other day asking what was my favorite quote. My reply:
If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough. – Albert Einstein
I’ve worked with a lot of leaders over the years. Sometimes, I would sit in meetings listening to long, drawn out presentations and would think to myself, “Do they REALLY know what they’re talking about? I’m fairly intelligent, but I’m having a hard time following this presentation.”
Have you ever felt that way??
Feelings of inadequacy would overwhelm me when colleagues would throw out acronyms and industry jargon that I didn’t understand. I’d furiously jot down notes during a meeting and then research all the things I didn’t know afterwards. I’m the type of person who loves to learn, so I considered it a challenge to figure it all out.
However, the more years I have under my belt, the more I’m convinced that all the big words and acronyms were sometimes a cover for all the things my colleagues couldn’t articulate well.
I was reading an excerpt about Ross Perot the other day. When people would want to pitch him ideas, he would tell the presenter to sit down with him for 5 minutes to pitch him face to face rather than sit through a long powerpoint presentation.
His thought process was this: If you can’t tell me what you want in 5 minutes or less, you likely don’t really know what you want.
So, how do you keep your pitches simple? There are two rules of thumb I follow:
Know your stuff. You’ve got to know everything about your topic. This also means you’ve got to be prepared and anticipate what questions might be asked about your idea. Be clear and concise about exactly what you want.
Don’t use acronyms or industry jargon. Don’t ever assume the person you’re pitching to knows your company or industry-specific terms. This is an instant turn-off and will most certainly end with you not getting what you want.