Say 20% Less

Say 20% Less

Did you know that Spanish contains 20% more words than English? I didn’t. Not until it was too late. Not until my translators let me know – with a slight hint of frustration in their (out of breath) voices.

I had just completed my first speech with simultaneous translation, at an incredible event in Mexico City. I thought it had gone pretty well (and it had), with the majority of the room giving all of the usual signs of being on board: heads nodding, eyes and mouths smiling, notes scribbling; all happening at the right times.

But for those who weren’t quite able to speak my language, I had presented them with a situation where they could have potentially missed one out of every five words. Lesson learned.

Say 20% Less

Think about how often you communicate with audiences who might not be fully fluent in your language. For marketers, this happens a lot. If you’re trying to teach someone about a new product or service – there’s always going to be elements of your communication that are foreign to them.

By saying 20% less, you give them more time to think about what you’re saying.

  • You give them more time to write things down.
  • You give them space to ask some questions.
  • You give them less information to process and remember before they ask you for more.
  • You give the conversation room to breathe.

I’m taking this into account for all of my future speaking and writing. How can you communicate more by saying less?

Photo Credit: Julius Mourlon

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