#102: Why Communicating What We Do Is So Hard

Jul 30, 2018

The most important part of your business is having a really great produce or service – providing value to people. The second most important part is communicating that. It sounds so simple! Yet people struggle with this all the time. And I really mean ALL THE TIME. I meet with everyone from employees to CEO’s in diverse industries with successful businesses and they struggle with this too.


Here is why it can be hard:


1   Expertise

You are an expert at what you do. Your knowledge in your field is extensive and this means you understand the processes and all of the ins and outs of the work. The hard part comes when we try and communicate to others who are not in our industry – our audiences. What is basic or common knowledge? We have been immersed in our sector for so long that we are no longer sure of what everyone else knows about what we do. Secondly, we use our industry specific jargon so often that we assume that others understand it as well.


2   Niche

We are also often not just doing work for our entire industry – we have target audiences and work in very specific areas. But, as outsiders, they can be unaware that that specific niche even exists. So when you try to say that you “gamify interactive microlearning”, that person’s eyes glaze over and they are thinking, “I have no idea what that is.”  What if you were to instead say, “I take the corporate training for large companies and turn it into a fun e-learning platform.” Is your work much more complex than that? Absolutely. But, would most people understand what you do a bit easier if you said it this way? Absolutely. 


3   Complexities

Communicating simply about complex work is hard. If you have a t-shirt company, it is easier to articulate that. The issue arises because most of us have full product/service suites and do a lot of different work for a lot of different companies. Our day to day always changes. So we often feel like we are doing our work a disservice or de-valuing our work by not talking about all the fifteen different things we are able to do. But, will that person be able to remember that long list of things we rattle off to them? No – we need to summarize it.

You really need to communicate the overarching themes that exist in your work. This isn’t always easy to determine. Actually, it’s quite difficult. But, until you start communicating really simply you are going to be in the same frustrating “no-one understands what I do” space.


If you are looking to develop your communications, sometimes the best decision is to get someone with an objective point of view involved – and someone who is outside of your industry. Get back to the basics. Remember, your target audiences don’t do the same work as you and don’t understand it as well. Communicate simply.

Next week’s blog post: why communications should not be undervalued