Why Give a Damn:

All too often our messages are not heard because we’re trying to be too clever.

The author of this post, Pascal Finette, is Director, Office of the Chair at Mozilla. He loves technology and believes that the Internet is deeply impacting mankind.

Over and over again I hear entrepreneurs, in an effort to make their solutions sound important and grand, use jargon, complex language constructs and lots and lots of foreign words. Sadly, what happens on the receiving end of their spiel is, more often than not, confusion, eyes which glaze over and wandering minds.

Play with your language and treat what you’re saying as poetry

In the global impact space this phenomena seems to be even more prevalent – for whatever reason social entrepreneurs display their intellectual capacity by spewing out endless, jargon-filled sentences; chained together to form one unintelligible mess. This is too bad – as it’s usually the exact opposite from the effect the entrepreneur wanted to have on her audience.

We have all witnessed the power of language. When we hear someone speak with carefully chosen words, in short and clear sentences, we listen, we are touched and transformed.

To achieve this kind of impact start with taking ownership of the problem: When people don’t understand you – assume that it’s your fault. Live and die by Blaise Pascal’s quote “I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.”

Your message is too important to not being heard

  • Construct your argument or pitch in short, simple sentences.
  • Avoid jargon and foreign words.
  • Speak in a language the layman can understand.
  • Study great speeches or presentations to get a feel for this.

Neither Martin Luther King nor Steve Jobs (to name two opposite ends of the spectrum) used long, complex sentences, jargon or lots of foreign words. Practice and study the impact you’re having. Play with your language and treat what you’re saying as poetry.

Your message is too important to not being heard.

Pascal Finette

Author Pascal Finette

Pascal is the Managing Director of Singularity University's Startup Lab. He is also an entrepreneur, coach, and speaker who has worked in Internet powerhouses, such as eBay, Mozilla, and Google, and Venture Capital—starting both a VC firm and accelerator program.

More by Pascal Finette