Stop showing off and start being simple

Over-thinking, over-explaining, over-talking, over-justifying, over-complicating — you are either doing it or on the receiving end of it — or both. How does it feel? Exhausting?

Is it bringing you new business? Are you influenced to buy when you are bombarded? If not — then how is all that hard work justified?

It probably isn’t!

So here’s a suggestion….

Simplify your communication and

a) you feel less confused and frustrated

b) your prospects thank you for the joy of a simple, clear message.

‘People don’t want more information. They can’t process the information they already have. What they want is faith in you, your words, and your good intentions’

A. Simmons — Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins

2 areas where you can simplify to good effect

1. Your networking introduction

You are obsessing over the 60 second time limit. This is the first time you have met some of these people. You need to make sure they know about all the services or products you offer. You need to impress them with your qualifications and all the amazing companies you’ve worked with. Ready steady — deep breath — start the clock — go!

The ‘show-off’ version

My name is Will Shakespeare, I am a playwright, actor and poet — England’s national poet and often described as ‘The Bard of Avon’. I have written 38 plays, 154 sonnets and two long narrative poems — oh and a few other verses — and they really are mine — ignore what you hear in the press. I have won a number of awards and global recognition — my plays have been performed in every country worldwide and translated into 50 languages. I have a particular specialism in tragedy and comedy — often combined — and my signature style often includes the use of the supernatural — although I also do romance very well….

Sorry? I have gone over the 60 seconds already? There is so much more… drat.

The simple version

Hi — I’m William Shakespeare — Playwright, actor and all round creative. If there is a story to be told then I can tell it in way that ignites and excites the imagination — when you tell your story well you have an engaged and loyal audience. So let me turn your product into a play that puts bums on seats — in other words — gets you business. Talk to me after this — lets start the story.

Go Will — brilliant pitch!

In this simple version Will allowed the listener’s some thinking space — essential if you want to hold their interest.

As Nancy Kline says in her brilliant book ‘Time to Think’:

‘supply information, of course. But time it so that it keeps a Thinking Environment strong between you. Ask yourself, ‘When and how do I do this so that this person can keep thinking well?’

2. Your presentation

You have an important presentation to make — get it right and you could have new clients queuing up. Pressure mounts.

The ‘show-off’ version

You have researched like crazy and have found so many brilliant quotes. You tracked down some amazing visuals and charts and have a great slide deck. You have even produced some handouts and some free pens with one of the quotes on. This is going to rock! You are starting with some showstopping figures that show the success of the work you have done in the past and then you reference 5 industry thought leaders and give links to the books that need to be read to follow up….. this is packed full of really impressive stuff!

Post presentation

What happened there? People seemed very distant — even saw some on their phones! Can’t believe there were no questions….

‘Presentations that follow rabbit trails lead nowhere and leave the audience lost in a confused maze of dead ends.’ Nancy Duarte — Resonate

The simple version

What is relevant to my audience? Right — working back from the strong take -away… my 2 or 3 main chunks… the links to that take-away… teased with an engaging and resonating story and a sense of the journey I will take them on. This one incredibly relevant and powerful quote… a constant sense of the audience being part of this presentation…. yes.. this is clear and simple. Not putting too much into the time available — so must remember to breathe and pause. Silence can be powerful.

Post presentation

Wow! That worked! They are still talking about it!

Remember this:

‘If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.’ Albert Einstein

You get the point.

I will just mention in passing that Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel primarily using just three colours: green, purple and a salmon pink


Why do you over-complicate things?

  • Impostor Syndrome
  • perfectionism
  • Lack of self-belief
  • Curse of Knowledge
  • I love my product and want to share lots of detail!
  • I assume everyone knows these concepts
  • Lack of preparation
  • I might be repeating myself
  • I’ve gone a bit round the houses — but…
  • Being stuck in our heads
  • I am not thinking about how I sound

What do you gain by daring to go simple?

  • Clarity
  • Creative freedom
  • Openings
  • Differentiation
  • New clients

Our brains crave simplicity — and so do our prospective customers and clients! You will achieve trust, credibility and status by being more simple and less of a show off.