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How ‘Overcoming The Curse Of Knowledge’ will make you a better communicator

Image of a man reading a book, which is emitting light

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If you’re a journalist, PR/marketing rep or social media manager, your hurdles every day boil down to one thing: trying to communicate what you mean to your audience in a way that makes them want to amplify your message. The problem is that you know exactly what you’re talking about and it’s hard to imagine that anyone else doesn’t, or wouldn’t.

Jesse Galef, writing at his blog, Measure of Doubt, distills this issue beautifully in a post titled “Overcoming The Curse Of Knowledge” (my emphasis):

Communication isn’t a solo activity; it involves both you and the audience. Writing a diary entry is a great way to sort out thoughts, but if you want to be informative and persuasive to others, you need to figure out what they’ll understand and be persuaded by. A common habit is to use ourselves as a mental model – assuming that everyone else will laugh at what we find funny, agree with what we find convincing, and interpret words the way we use them. The model works to an extent – especially with people similar to us – but other times our efforts fall flat. You can present the best argument you’ve ever heard, only to have it fall on dumb – sorry, deaf – ears.

That’s not necessarily your fault – maybe they’re just dense! Maybe the argument is brilliant! But if we want to communicate successfully, pointing fingers and assigning blame is irrelevant.

Forget about what “style” your company uses or what some guide says you should do. Know who you’re writing for and how they receive information. Tailor your message toward whatever platform you’re using (e.g. blogging vs. YouTube vs. Facebook vs. in person).

Your greatest successes will come from knowing your audience and communicating in ways that make sense to them.

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