When you write the text of a PowerPoint presentation — or when you speak — you need to choose words that are effective for your audience. Mainly, you need to take into consideration your audience’s educational level and previous knowledge of the topic.
Even if your audience is made up of college graduates, that doesn’t mean you can use any words you want. If you’re speaking on a topic that they don’t know, as in a training situation, your listeners are still beginners are far as that topic is concerned.
Don’t assume that your audience knows the jargon you’re used to. Define terms and don’t throw acronyms (abbreviations) around.
Knowing the educational level of your audience helps to avoid two situations: one where you talk down to your audience, sounding condescending, and the opposite, where you speak over their heads.
Even if you need to keep the content fairly simple, don’t oversimplify. Make sure that your content is meaningful — both deep and broad.
An excellent article from the point of view of newspaper writing, “Reading the Vanishing Newspaper, 6: Readability,” covers this topic well. Tim Porter, the author, discusses readability calculations and some applicable research, as well as their implications. He calculated the grade-level of articles from the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, with a result ranging from 11th to 12th grade.
I discuss the concept of basing your message, your content, on your audience in this tip: Base content on your audience.
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