You’re about to give a presentation. Everyone’s talking. No one’s paying attention. You stand up. A hush descends. You look around the room.
Take a deep breath.
And, loudly say, “Orange.”
Half the room thinks you’re talking about a colour, the other half thinks about a fruit. No one thinks they’ve misunderstood you. But you’re referring to a phone company.
If that example feels overly simple, let’s look take a different word: brand.
Talk to marketers about brand and some people cannot think beyond logotypes and icons, colour palettes and straplines. While others will think of something deeper, a promise to be delivered.
Or if brand is not your thing, let’s talk about integrated campaigns. It’s an odds-on bet that whichever marcomms discipline you specialise in, you think integrated campaigns are ones where other specialisms support your campaign.
In all of these examples, people are using the same words but they mean different things.
There two examples look at fairly mainstream terms. What happens when we’re talking about more technical terms like optimisation, measurement and efficiency?
The truth is that, despite being in the business of communication, there are probably a significant number of conversations that digital folk and PRs and marketers have everyday where they do not understand one another without knowing it.
How to achieve clarity
I coach minis rugby on weekends and one of the techniques that I’ve taken from the rugby pitch into the office is asking people if they understand what I mean. It’s amazing how useful this can because it forces me to explain something in a simpler way. It’s massively helpful because, more often than not, this simplified explanation can be used when discussing the same topic with other people in the future.
If you’re producing written documents, a useful technique can be to define key terms in a glossary. This is particularly helpful when sending documents to people who do not work in communications connected industries, but I’d argue it’s just as helpful when sending documents to your peers.
So the next time you’re discussing a topic, take a moment to make sure everyone’s on the same page.