In the business-to-business world, we must be slick, know more than the competition, be stoic, serious, sound like THE expert, right? We need to speak the language, know the acronyms. Do we though?
Delivering and presenting ourselves in a way that steers clear of jargon and hierarchy is what is becoming the differentiator for so many people.
I spent 10 years working in organisations that had their own language. A discourse community that I felt was there to catch me out. I didn’t speak their language, so I was an outsider. PGCE, LGC, SLT, all words that had little deeper meaning. It was a bit like trying to understand what the dentist is saying over your head to their assistant (they don’t want you to understand, by the way).
Let me explain, a discourse community is ‘a group of people who share a set of basic values and beliefs, known as discourses. Each discourse community has its own set of written or unwritten rules and uses them to pursue a common goal.’
Of course, we want to be seen as ‘experts’ in our field, but by using business jargon (a shared discourse) we become exclusive rather than inclusive. And rather than impressing our audience, we begin to alienate them.
This is frustrating because the world has changed. No matter what level you are, being seen as approachable, knowledgeable, and doing it with a sense of humility is where the world is today. There may still be a pressure to conform or to fulfil expectations, but we need to take a leap of faith and not be so frightened to offend or to be different.
We inhabit a world saturated with social media platforms, where the people of YouTube, TikTok and Instagram have changed the discourse. Now, WE are the media. The language has changed to the ‘everyday’ and the tone of voice is familiar. Therefore, the message needs to be delivered with PERSONALITY.
Delivering With Personality
‘At its most basic, personality is the characteristic patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that make a person unique. …’
We need to show up in person, personally and with personality. Sound scary? It’s not, honest!
We are heading in the direction of the everyday voice, this means your voice. Consumers don’t want dry, corporate-speak – ‘R.O.I’, ‘Due Diligence’, ‘Synergy’… Huh?
Marketing master and Chief Brand Officer for Topgolf, Geoff Cottrill (who led teams at Coca Cola, Starbucks, Converse) stops his teams using buzz words like these by asking if they’d go home and speak to their children using them – ‘target’, ‘Drill Down’ ‘think outside the box’. Their children wouldn’t understand and why should they.
We need to speak as we do every day, authentically, as consumers ourselves. What do we want? How can we serve? No jargon.
I’ve never been part of the corporate world, so I don’t know but are corporate employees trained to speak this way or do they learn by osmosis, due to the pressures of conformity. Not wanting to offend, or stand out?
Where is the humility, the creativity the vulnerability?
Ok, I’ll put it out there and take that step forward. I am creative! There I said it.
I have been a designer and an actor, but my creativity is more than that. It’s part of who I am, part of my personality and I hope that shines through everything I do. Creativity is a strength, not a weakness.
When I began my business and stepped into the business arena I felt like an alien. There was no one else out there like me and that worried me for a while. But that’s the point, there isn’t anyone else like me. Who I am is a strength, because I am unique. Only I speak the way I speak. Only I create, have the ideas and the thoughts I have and that makes me unique. Totally special. Totally capable. I am creative and efficient, creative, and professional, creative, and able to meet deadlines.
You can be creative without being ‘fluffy’.
You can be vulnerable without being weak.
You can be an expert without being corporate.
You can have a personality without being overbearing.
How Can You Do This?
Change happens when you share stories and not hide behind brands, logos, or corporations.
‘Experts’ use a community discourse that we feel we should buy into but if they talk over our heads, it is easy for us to switch off. We’ll go look for someone that speaks OUR language, holds OUR values and that can be you. Let them find you because of your personality. You’ll have a shared discourse. They will hear themselves in you.
Use your experiences, your life, your voice. This is how you build a community that believes you because you believe you. Stop trying to be like them.
Humility is a fabulous thing. To be kind to be generous, to be supportive, to listen, to set aside ego and to serve.
Consumers don’t need to be bamboozled by the technologies of corporate language or business-speak. We’re not going to sell that way. We’re not going to be trustworthy.
Show up, with humility, authenticity and personality. It may feel vulnerable to step out of the shadows, but vulnerability takes courage. Be courageous. Show us who you are.
Need help? I can show you how. Get in touch for a complimentary 30 minute chat.