Since there is a Federal election going on this May, my wife is hard at work teaching her grade 6 class all the ins and outs of the Canadian Government. She’s talking about the Senate, the House of Commons, the Prime Minister’s office, Cabinet, election ridings, all the various philosophies of the political parties. She’s about 15 minutes into the lesson when one of her ESL exchange students puts up her hand and asks, “What is voting?”
This is something that happens in the tech industry all too often. We get all excited trying to explain a product, what it can do and how it works, when the customer is still stuck on trying to figure out one key piece of information. To make matters worse, we’re talking to adults here. They don’t want to look stupid, so they are less likely to speak up when they don’t understand something. They’ll go with the guy who gave them a decorative pen instead. This why we need to have intense rapport with our customers. They need to feel comfortable asking questions. Better yet, ask THEM questions about what they understand, so you can craft your message accordingly. Remember, just because everyone in the room speaks English, it doesn’t mean you all speak the same language.