I still remember the first time I walked into the gorgeous Library of Parliament (which Stephen Harper and Barack Obama are admiring in this picture). Like them, I also found it jaw-droppingly beautiful.
I read and researched many speeches in there, and my first one taught me a lesson I’ll never forget.
I was working for a well-respected politician, who asked me to write a speech for him on a complex and, frankly, kind of boring topic.
I’ve always been a believer in the power of plain, simple language, so I worked hard to get rid of the jargon and multi-syllable words, and replace them with easy-to-understand ones. I slaved over that speech, and it was a masterpiece. (Well, maybe not quite, but it was good!)
Then Something Awful Happened
When my boss got up to give the talk, he got rid of all those lovely, simple words. He replaced them with huge, long, and often incorrect words. It was excruciating. I struggled not to cry. The speech didn’t even make sense any more!
Why Did He Do It?
What I had failed to appreciate was that the audience I was writing for wasn’t the public.They were never going to watch or read this speech. They were not the target market.
My audience was my boss, and his target market was a bunch of other politicians who weren’t really paying attention. Nothing he could say was going to grab their attention. But if they were only half-listening, he wanted to sound impressive. Educated. Smart. And $10 words made him feel that way.
Turns out he only had a grade 6 education, and he was desperately trying to cover up that fact.
How Well Do You Know Your Target Market?
As a blogger and podcaster, it is incredibly difficult to get to know mine. That’s why I’m asking you to do me a favour (or a favor, for the other half of my readers. One thing I do know is your geographic location!) I would be grateful if you would take 2 or 3 minutes and fill in the reader survey at http://bit.ly/FRreaders. Everyone who answers will have a chance to win the book, Tilt: Shifting Your Strategy From Products to Customers, which was listed by Forbes, Fortune and strategy+business as one of the best business books of the year.
Please help me help you. Thanks.