Let’s play a game. The next time you’re with someone (ba-hahaha… let’s just keep moving), ask them to listen to you.

Now that you’ve climbed THAT mountain, try this.

With your index finger tap out the “Happy Birthday” song. No humming allowed, pretty please.

Easy enough, right? I mean, who couldn’t figure out that song? Plus, you’re a really, really good finger tapper.

SPOILER ALERT: Your listener isn’t going to guess the song.

Your tap-song victim is going to look confused, increasingly irritated and then just lose interest all together.

What to do next? Start tapping harder and harder and screaming, “Are you SERIOUS? You don’t know what song this is? What are you? Stupi…!” (Did you just have a school flashback? Me too.)

When we tap out “Happy Birthday,” the song is all we hear – and it’s perfect! Again, you’re a good tapper.

But to the listener who lacks the knowledge (i.e., the name of the song), your tapping is just a “tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing.” (Yes, that’s Macbeth. A+ for you if we ever go back to school.)

Ever heard of the “curse of knowledge”? Once we know something, we forget what it’s like not to know.

So when you’re presenting new information to a (Zoom) audience or your cat, do yourself and your listeners a favour. Speak to them using common concepts that are easy to understand, familiar and simple to visualize.

I love the Heath brothers (Made to Stick) example: you could spend all day describing what a pomelo looks and tastes like.

Or you could say, “My dear cat or Zoom potato-head friend: a pomelo looks like a supersized grapefruit.”

When teaching others, don’t be a tapper. Be an easy-to-understand teacher who uses clear, concrete concepts and visuals the audience already knows. Your listeners will thank you – not curse you – for the lesson.

Sending you illegal hugs and kisses and birthday songs too,

♥ Shannon