Curse of Knowledge

October 26, 2017

Today we’re going to talk about something that wreaks havoc on your brand messaging. Since it’s almost Halloween, this seemed like a fitting subject because this is some real scary stuff. I’m going to tell you a little story about…

What is it?

It’s the idea that as an expert in your field, you have immense knowledge about a particular subject. So immense, that you have a tendency to explain things at a level that sometimes goes over their heads. You may assume that they have a certain amount of knowledge, and don’t explain things to them in a way that they can fully grasp.

In my past life as a teacher, I heard about this concept at some professional development training where I may or may not have spent 90% of the time checking email. But during the 10% of the time that I was listening, I caught this gem and it stuck with me.

I understood a certain subject like the back of my hand since I had studied it for years and spent most of my days immersed in it. But my students would often walk into the classroom having never heard of the concept I was teaching that day. Even more frustrating would be the times when they didn’t even have the background knowledge I needed to anchor this concept to in order to help it make sense to them.

So how do we reverse the curse?

You have to make sure that you’re taking the complexity of your content and bringing it wayyyyy down. You want to pretend that the person you’re explaining things to is a sixth grader. This is especially true when it comes to your brand messaging.

That scary part that I referred to in the beginning of this post? It’s this: if it doesn’t make sense to potential clients, they’re just gonna keep on, keepin’ on!

Result: you’re going to miss out on a dreamboat client and potential revenue.

BONUS TIP: If you have some really important content you’re trying to get out into the world, and you’re not sure if it’s been struck by the curse, find someone with little to no background knowledge of the subject and ask them to read what you wrote. Then have them explain it back to you based on their understanding. If they explain it right, then you did a good job and you’re curse free! If they didn’t, you know you have to simplify a little more.

Now that you know about the curse, let me know in the comments below if you think you’ve been a victim! Don’t worry if you have. And don’t forget, knowledge is also power, so now you reverse the curse and serve your clients at the same time!

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