• Lyle Neff

How to talk tech


"I'm going to put my quantum harmonizer in your photonic resonation chamber!" the frenzied Vault-Tec scientist shouts at you.


The best response? "But doctor, wouldn't that cause a parabolic destabilization of the fission singularity?"


Hmmm. On second thought, maybe this calls for a more direct approach? Let’s try this: “Yeah? Up yours too, buddy!”


Okay, now, assuming you’re still reading this, you had one of two reactions to the nonsense above.


If you’re a video gamer familiar with the G.O.A.T. exam from the Fallout series, maybe it kicked off a bout of nostalgia for a wasted youth spent blasting away at post-apocalyptic Super Mutants and Ghouls.


For everyone else, it looks like techno-babble.


And boy, you don’t want to be talking like that -- especially about your own product offering. So, don’t.


Tell it like it is


Complex subjects seem to require elaborate speech, but really the opposite is true. Clarity, simplicity and directness are key when you try to persuade someone of something.


Overabundant jargon and acronyms form a verbal fog. It blinds prospects from what you need them to see about your product or offering.


Consider the mighty Apple, prior to the risky launch of the first iPad in 2010. Now, the iPad was a powerful machine and a decided departure for the company. But Cupertino’s ace marketers didn’t spend much time talking about its 64-bit architecture or oleophobic coating (wha…?)


Instead their approach was summarized in head designer Jony Ive’s famous comment: “I don’t have to change myself to fit the product. It fits me.”


Figure out what the customer needs to know


Some marketers tend to think that the more info you give a prospect about your product, the likelier you are to close a sale. But it’s not necessarily so.


Silicon Valley-based Cira Apps, for example, retails a heavy-duty piece of landing-page software. It’s a granular-control SaaS GAL-sync solution that… zzz. That’s not how they market it!


Cira syncs all your company contact lists and calendars to everybody’s phone. That’s it. And they’re a very successful company, at least in part because they don’t bombard prospects with unintelligible specialized techno-talk.


That’s because their people don’t sell to coders - nor, really, to CTOs, engineers, marketing execs or any other demographic who seem to be obvious prospects. No, Cira Apps, like your company, must sell its product to people. Very busy people, at that.


Jargon-heavy messaging can bore or irritate your customer. You really must consider them as individuals, not just a specialized subset of people. And what people, especially businesspeople, need is: the relevant information. And they would like it yesterday if possible, please.


After all, don’t you?


Be succinct. No babbling in the elevator!


Brevity is the soul of wit and, for marketing and PR, the key to a win. If it were easy to be succinct in commercial speech, everybody’d be doing it. Spoiler: they’re not. But achieving high-impact brevity isn’t impossible either - it’s likely you’ve already done it.


Well, you or the founders of your company. The history of any substantial tech enterprise will include moments where the outbound messaging just clicked, and led to real success. This history, of your own organization’s tech talk, is a resource you should look into.

When you look at messaging that works, you'll notice: it uses few words. Your colleagues may not have hit the Larry and Sergey gold standard of “indexing all the world’s information.” But it’s clear thinking (and succinct pitching) like that which leads to success.


Refuse cliche, jargon and acronyms. Keep the messaging short. You'll find you connect with your audience that much quicker.

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