October 2, 2022

Do not assume your message makes sense

Here at the NAACP, we've been busy ramping up our vital GOTV efforts. This week is our last EOQ deadline before election day, and our last chance to fuel our voter mobilization operations before our volunteers are out in full swing.
Do 🚫NOT🚫 assume that your message makes sense.

This fundraising email I received makes a couple of assumptions:

1️⃣ I know what GOTV and EOQ mean. And no, these acronyms were not explained elsewhere in the email.

2️⃣ I've read previous emails which might clarify these acronyms, so it's not necessary to do it this time.

I cannot emphasize enough that it is ALWAYS your responsibility—as a communicator, writer, marketer, content creator or presenter—to make your message as clear and simple as possible for your audience. Every time.

If they don't get it, it's not their fault.

👉🏼Reminder: Adults have big fragile egos.

People often won't raise their hand in your presentation to ask you to explain something, because they don't want to look foolish.

As unfortunate as that is, YOU (the communicator) must understand that if you don't make things clear, and your audience doesn't ask (or Google), you've lost them.

Funny story: A friend of mine contacted me a few years ago, perplexed about an email she had received from her local Toastmasters club. She'd been thinking of joining and had contacted a club with questions.

"...I wrote to them asking what the requirements are, and the guy wrote back that it's open to Toastmasters who've earned a CC. Really helpful. Not. What's a CC? Does it mean anything to you?"

When I explained the acronym, she wrote back:

"How 'competent' is a 'communicator' who answers a query from an interested newbie with an abbreviation that means nothing to them (me) without explaining it in English?"

How competent, indeed?

I'm picking on NAACP and Toastmasters here, but everyone is doing this (ESPECIALLY nonprofits), assuming your audience understands your words, acronyms, jargon and lingo.

They don't.

And they feel stupid asking.

So just👏🏼keep👏🏼it👏🏼simple👏🏼.

(Also... acronyms, jargon and lingo are BORING. 🤷🏻)

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