You’ve been asked to speak at an event. Or it’s on your shoulders to make a big presentation for your company. You want to seem smart, you want to appear to be savvy and sophisticated, you want to make a good impression.
If that’s the case, I have some great advice for you: play dumb. Yup, I think you should play dumb.
You know those high-brow talks you’ve heard with big picture concepts and even bigger vocabulary words? And you know those super fancy slides you’ve seen people present with, the ones that move and change and grow before your very eyes? Well, forget about all of it. More often than not, when the speaker and the visuals try to go too big, the audience takeaway is “huh?!”
Go for simplicity. Be willing to do the hard work for your audience. Make it simple for them, so they can understand and remember. Dumb it down. Even the most complex ideas, projects or transactions can be made simple. Use basic everyday words, think of metaphors or analogies that can help illustrate, make your sentences short and crisp, keep visuals clean and clear.
If you can simplify for your audience and make your ideas accessible, understandable and memorable then you’re definitely the smartest person in the room!

Beth Levine