Hone Your Skills

Why The Best Leaders Use Simple Language

January 14, 2022
5 Min

When giving a presentation, it's easy to get caught up in all the jargon that's out there. You want to impress people with your knowledge, right? There's nothing wrong with this, but you don't want to go overboard.

The best leaders are able to communicate in simple language. They can get their point across without rambling or relying on technical terms that their audience might not understand.

This doesn't mean they're dumbing down the information. It simply means they know so much about a specific topic that they know how to speak like an average person and make things understandable for everyone around them!

This is something we can all strive for as leaders of our own teams or organizations: using simple language when communicating with others will help us reach out better than if we had used more complex terminology.

Modern Examples

Thought leaders including Simon Sinek and Sheryl Sandberg have been pushing for simpler communication for years.

There is a growing body of research that demonstrates the benefits of concise, straightforward communication. In 2013, Simon Sinek's bestselling book Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action became a popular guidebook for entrepreneurs, executives and thought leaders alike — all advocating for simplicity as a key to success in business. Sheryl Sandberg has also pushed for this principle in her own work, Lean In.

The Most Effective Leaders All Use Plain Language

The ability to use plain language is a sign that leaders are being inclusive and putting the needs of the people they serve first. When leaders use plain language, it shows that they understand what others need to know and how to communicate it clearly. By giving careful consideration to word choice, leaders can avoid making themselves seem more important than they are, or making those they lead feel inferior.

Leaders who communicate using plain language have a significant advantage over those who speak in lofty terms. The ability to use simple words effectively has a direct impact on whether or not people trust you as their leader, because your words create a connection between you and your audience. Those who listen to you will understand what you are communicating without feeling intimidated or lost in jargon, so they will be more likely to feel confident and trust you as their leader.

What is Simple Language?

Plain language doesn't mean dumbing things down. It means speaking clearly, avoiding jargon, and being mindful of the audience.

Keep in mind that plain language does not mean dumbing things down. Plain language also does not mean avoiding complex language (unless your audience has indicated they do not understand it). Plain language is not being overly formal, nor is it being overly informal: it's finding a happy medium between the two.

The best leaders know their audience, and they speak to that audience appropriately. This means they avoid jargon and technical terminology unless they are speaking to an audience with whom such language will be understood easily.

While the best leaders use plain language when communicating with others, they take care to distinguish between the different audiences to which they are speaking. They know how each one will want to be spoken to -- and they speak accordingly.

Plain Language Benefits All Kinds Of Businesses, From Local Restaurants To Global Enterprises

The research is clear: simplicity is the key to effective communication. Plain language—clear, straightforward language that is easy to understand—means a better experience for your customers and makes it more likely that they'll buy from you. It also helps you avoid legal problems and saves you time, money, and energy.

If you have a complex product or service, use plain language to explain it clearly so people can make informed decisions before they buy. When your audience knows what they're getting into, they're less likely to complain or ask for refunds because of unrealistic expectations or misunderstandings.

Many Companies Have Already Adopted Plain-Language Guidelines, With Much Success

Companies in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the UK have already adopted plain-language guidelines for their internal and external communications. They have done so because it works. These companies are able to communicate faster and more effectively than their competitors.

Employees who ask better questions get better answers from co-workers. Companies that craft content clearly find it easier to build trust with customers.

Plain Language Is A Good Way To Reach People And Get Them On Board With Your Goals

Take a moment to think about your business and the kinds of people who make it successful. You probably have a diverse group of employees, customers and stakeholders with different backgrounds, levels of formal education and communication styles.

You might not know what language they speak at home or how many languages they are fluent in. What you do know is that everyone understands simple language more easily than complex language. That’s why it’s important for leaders to use plain language no matter who their audience is. It will ensure more people can access your message, understand it, and be able to act on it.

In general, the best leaders utilize plain language. They don't try to sound smart or impressive, they just make sure their message gets across. Using simple language shows intelligence and a commitment to communication, as well as a willingness to keep your audience engaged at all times. If a leader can say what is needed in simple language with only the barest of information being conveyed, he or she is doing something right.

Say it like you mean it.

Improve your commmunication skills with Poised

Sign up for Free
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.