Whether or not you agree with Robert Reich’s take on THE economy, you must admire his use of Economy. His message has impact and credibility, without a single extra syllable or stroke of the pen. He makes it look effortless. But boiling our message down to its bare essence takes A LOT more work. It’s made easier, though, if you understand what is at the heart of economy: understanding your audience.
Understand their attention span:
Reich has designed a presentation that takes less time to watch than the latest viral cat video.
What do you know about your own audience? How much time do they have? How many presentations have they already seen? Are they about to go to lunch?
Understand their level of experience:
Reich knows that the average Middle American doesn’t have a degree in Finance. So he uses plain language to describe difficult concepts. His factual support is easy to digest. He maps out his points in a logical progression. And he uses visual aids that are clear and concise: one image per point.
It’s tempting to use complicated language and jargon to try to lend ourselves credibility, but we actually display a deeper understanding of our material if we can put it into plain terms.
Understand their mood:
Reich understands that the economy is an emotionally charged issue, so he chooses to stay relaxed and conversational in his tone, even under the pressure of his time limit. And he keeps the mood light with homespun visual aids designed to make us chuckle.
Humans are empathic, and our moods are contagious. So consider walking in the door with the mood you want to the audience to be in: inspired, engaged, focused, calm, relaxed, whatever you think is going to help them hear your message clearly.
The work we do to empathize with our audience will be repaid 10 fold in the audience empathizing with us.