Open The Kimono
Have you noticed how some people use big, fancy words to explain concepts? In my line of work, they use words like MQL, TAT, smarketing, dynamic personas, heuristics and more.
If, by some luck and skill, you manage to follow the conversation, you would notice that whoever is talking isn’t saying much. But, in most cases, you’d switch off mentally and nod at the right places just to look polite.
And, guess what? This is a massive problem everywhere – including offices, advertising, blogging and schools.
Here’s a secret: I used to be that guy. I used complicated words to show off that I knew stuff that others didn’t. But a deeper, more honest reason is that I was scared. I didn’t know what I was talking about and I didn’t want other people to poke holes in my argument.
People can’t fight what they don’t understand.
You see, at that point, my main objective was not to communicate clearly, but to sound intelligent. I was super insecure – but I changed everything with the ELI5 approach.
The ELI5 Approach
ELI5 stands for “Explain Like I’m 5”. Instead of talking about budgets and profits and fiscal deficits, you’d talk about a lemonade stand. Instead of talking about psychological development and the three part story structure, you could use the example of Harry Potter (or Bob The Builder!).
The idea is that if you know your subject well enough, you would be able to explain it to a five year old kid – using the simple language they would understand. If you’re not able to, that means that there are holes in your knowledge and you’d need to learn more before you’re the expert.
No More Bullshitting
Take up the ELI5 approach whenever you can, wherever you can. With this approach, you will be forced to learn your topic inside out. And once you know something that well, you can don’t need to bullshit.
In case you’re wondering where the phrase comes from, watch this video.