Simplify doesn’t mean “dumb down”.
It means your memos, presentations and other businesss documents should only be as technical as they need to be depending on your audience. Obviously, if you’re writing or speaking to engineers, you can safely assume a certain level of technical competence — although you might be surprised at how many software developers, for example, can barely crank out anything beyond the most rudimentary PowerPoint presentation.
But you should keep it as simple as possible, even when addressing a technically- sophisticated audience, like medical doctors.
That’s not just my advice. It comes from an American doctor who attends a lot of technical presentations and gives quite a few himself. His advice, on Presentation Zen:
Always ask yourself how technical do you really need to be. If you’re a specialist speaking to generalists, do they really need all the details? This is particularly true when discussing your own research or work (where it’s easy to get carried away).
Can you say: “The technical details are in the handout” (to be distributed after the talk) or “for those interested in the technical details, I’ll be in the lobby after the talk”?
• Can one complex slide be broken down into several simpler ones? Can you use simple graphics and complex descriptions?
• Most importantly: the basics are really important: (a strong) opening, informal tone… work the room, using the blank screen feature, and, of course, Passion, Passion, Passion!!!
I once saw a great talk on the notoriously difficult subject of biostatistics in which the speaker started his talk by standing up in his sportcoat and tie and said “I don’t know about you, but I get pretty worked up talking about biostats so I’ve gotta get this coat off and get ready to rock.” It was funny but genuine and showed passion and informality right from the start. A nice move I’ve copied on occasion.”
“Dr. Ted’s” advice applies not only to speaking but writing, too. Try it yourself. But don’t be surprised to discover– it’s hard work to keep it simple. But your listeners/ readers will love you for it! (Hey, they might even buy what you’re selling.)