The Curse of Knowledge
Knowledge is power...
...only when that knowledge is understood.
I was listening to Joe Rogan’s podcast the other day and he had on Canadian psychologist and Harvard Professor, Steven Pinker.
Although they bounced around from topic to topic, Pinker mentioned a concept I hadn’t heard of before, but, it deeply resonated with me because I have been guilty of this on several occasions in the past.
It’s called The Curse Of Knowledge.
From Wiki: The curse of knowledge is a cognitive bias that occurs when an individual, communicating with other individuals, unknowingly assumes that the others have the background to understand.
In other words, you’re not shaping your message for the “layman,” which means you might as well be speaking in tongues because a chunk of your audience has no idea what the hell you’re talking about.
Now, if your audience can’t wrap their heads around what you’re saying or writing, then that defeats the purpose of sharing your thought leadership in the first place.
Additionally, by assuming everyone knows what you’re talking about, you’re also are leaving out key pieces of valuable, supplemental information that could make the difference for members of your tribe.
As I mentioned before, I used to struggle mightily with this myself.
Once upon a time, I was extremely technical and photo-nerdy with my blog and social posts. I took for granted that I spent years learning and honing my craft, and assumed everyone not only knew what I was talking but also would appreciate all of the photographer jargon I was employing in each post.
Truth be told, the phrases, slang and overall knowledge I used was only understood by other photographers, which is awesome if my ideal clients were photographers.
Although I wrote my posts with the best of intentions, they weren’t optimized for my thought leader audience.
Years later, some amazing folks in my tribe helped me recalibrate the way I approach content creation, and the result was that I adopted a totally new way of shaping my message:
When you create content, write it in a way that a 4-year-old can understand.
I’m not suggesting you dumb down your expertise - I’m just referring to the way you communicate the message - use clear, simple words and phrases that clearly lay out your lesson.
I’ve found that avoiding jargon and technical concepts generates a wonderful bonus for me, as well.
By avoiding the complicated language, that exercise forces me to gain deeper insight into the concepts and allows me to understand what I’m talking about even more.
I’ve found myself looking up concepts and terms in order to cement the idea in my head, and that, in turn, allowed me to explain it in a very simplified way.
Not a bad win all around, if you ask me.
The next time that you sit in front of your computer to crank out some content for your blogs or social feeds, make sure to keep the 4-year-old in all of us in mind, :)
How do you approach complicated topics in your social posts?
How do you share your expertise and knowledge with your tribe?
PS - For those of you who aren’t in the know, I mail out these blogs 3x a week, and lemme tell you, they’re a real party, so, if you’d like to get in on this, sign up for it here and I’ll throw in a free gift for you...because I care, :)