10 Tips on How to Not Speak Like a Geek
July 28, 2014 Upstart Business Journal | by Bill Rosenthal, CEO, Logical Operations

Geek-speak can torpedo your communications.You can’t present effectively to customers, employees, funding sources or any other audience that is vital to your business's success if they don't understand what you're saying.

Speaking like a geek doesn’t impress non-techies.It usually turns them off.But clueless technical professionals, engineers and scientists keep talking like geeks to non-geeks --face-to-face, at meetings and in their written communications.

They use words and terms the audience might not comprehend.They focus on the technical details that support their case and neglect to place them in the framework of the big picture.They fail to connect what they’re saying to why it matters to the people they’re addressing.I get it, you're smart, the audience is thinking. But why should I care if you don’t care enough to speak to me in my language?

Here are some tips on how to communicate technical information to a non-technical audience effectively:

Who are they? Be sure you understand your audience’s level of understanding of the technology you’re discussing. Unless you do, you risk speaking over their heads—or talking down to them by over-explaining.

Why am I here? Be clear on what you want your audience to know and to do.Everything you say should flow from that premise.

Appeal to the head and the heart: Technology professionals often believe that “the facts speak for themselves."They don't exactly. You have to make the audience believe them.That means the audience has to see you as trustworthy and likable. Let the audience understand that you share their values and concerns. Use stories and anecdotes to help show your humanity as well as clarify your information. Your knowledge and power of position alone won’t be persuasive. To get the audience excited about your idea you have to show your own passion for it. From the presentation’s start to its finish, maintain a high energy level.

Keep it simple: Don't try to cram too much into your presentation. Data dumping can kill it. Limit yourself to a few main points. Don't try to cover every “what if” scenario. Be sure you don’t exceed your time limit.

“Read” the audience: Keep a careful eye on the audience. Look for signs that they aren't following what you're saying. If you suspect that's happening, explain it better, perhaps with an anecdote or an analogy. If they seem particularly interested in the point you're making, think about expanding on it.

Watch your language: Use the language of home and hearth. Avoid using jargon or acronyms that might be misunderstood. Avoid buzzwords and circumlocutions. Use active rather than passive verbs. A perfect noun or verb doesn't need a modifier. Use short sentences. Make every word count.

Frame it: Begin by telling the audience what you’ll talk about and close with a summary of your main points.This will be particularly useful when you're presenting technical information that might be hard to understand.

Plan the Q&A: Anticipate the questions you're likely to be asked and prepare concise, persuasive answers to them. Ask “What questions do you have?” rather than “Do you have any questions?” Listen to the question all the way through; don’t begin planning your answer before the end of the question. If the question's unclear, ask for clarification. If everyone didn't hear the question, summarize it before you answer. Tie back the last question-and-answer to one of your main points.

Make the visuals meaningful: Presenters of technical information often cram too much information in the visuals. Keep them simple. Don't use screen captures, spreadsheets, charts and graphs that are extraneous to your main message. A slide with single word can speak volumes. Think about using animation. Speak to the audience, not the visuals. Don’t even think about using the visuals as cues for what to say next.

Rehearse it: Rehearse the presentation so you can deliver it without a script.You’ll connect much better with the audience that way. Inexperienced presenters often make the mistake of reading the presentation silently to themselves so they can deliver it without a script. That's a big mistake. Rehearse it the way you’ll deliver it, with body movement and changes in voice (pitch, volume and tempo) that emphasizes your important words and phrases. You'll become more confident with every run-through. You'll also find you can eliminate lots of content that you thought was needed.

Rehearse the presentation before one or two non-techies. Ask them to alert you if in their view you’re speaking like a geek. You’ll find this kind of rehearsal invaluable.

Read the full article here: http://upstart.bizjournals.com/resources/advice/2014/07/28/10-tips-on-how-to-not-speak-like-a-geek.html?page=all