Bryan Kramer

Posted on January 24, 2013 by Bryan Kramer 26

Five Rules on How to Speak Human

I don’t care what language you speak, who your brand is or what message you’re trying to send, we all need to speak more human (tweet this). Often enough we complicate what we’re trying to say. Ironically, as our world becomes more customer-owned and socially-enabled, we continue to see complicated, redundant, over-technical, and over-thought mass messages getting pushed out – and lost – in the ether. Is it really getting harder to stand out, with so much data and information out there… or is the answer just to clearly say what you mean, in understandable human words?

Here are 5 rules on how to speak human in business:

carryon1. KISS – While kissing people may be an easy way to get people’s attention, the act of “Keep It Simple, Stupid” is sometimes the hardest. Enough said.

2. Acronym-less - I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve been in where acronyms are used so often that my brain ends up spending so much time trying to decipher what they mean instead of focusing on the actual thoughts trying to be conveyed. Acronyms can have their place (see Rule #1 above), but not when they replace communicating information to someone else, who might not understand your word full of capital letters.

3. Swap places - In order to know what will resonate simply with your audience, put yourself in their shoes. What’s the context of their world? If you were them, what would you like to hear? The message has to resonate with them – not necessarily you – to be heard.

4. Gut vs. Fact - Our Chief Creative Officer, Courtney Smith, always says “Market to the heart, and sell to the head.” People love facts, and statistics are great proof points when you’re selling. But in my experience, my gut is the only indicator to leading innovation. Your gut will tell you if something’s too risky. It will drive exhilaration when you throw caution to the wind. It will be the first to start a sentence with “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?!” And although I strongly encourage you to balance the two – your head and your heart – when in doubt, go with your gut. It’s never wrong.

5. G to the P - Whether you are reading this as a brand or a person, just get to the point. We’re all busy. We care about a lot of stuff. Just do less talking and more listening. This applies to messaging, content, conversations – and relationships.


KEY TAKEAWAY: It’s the simplicity of our favorite communicators, brands and products that make us fall in love with them, because we get what they’re saying. It takes a lot of hard work to make something so complex look so easy. Some call it brilliance… but perhaps we should call it speaking human.


I would love your thoughts or questions about this post, please jot it below. Also, be the first to receive each blog post by signing up at the top right of this page. Cheers! 

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  • Jeff Trabucco

    Totally agree. This is a very relevant message right now.

    I work with programmers everyday who often provide the first draft on ‘how to’ instructions for our Web users. This issue also persists in some of our online promotional messaging. Way too often it’s overcomplicated, daunting, and more than any normal human being should be required to mentally process.

    If possible, it would be super helpful if you could send along examples of where you
    see brands NOT following the KISS rule. One of the most effective ways I
    learn is to see examples of what NOT to do. And then perhaps an example or two of where brands are getting it right.

    Thanks for the post! j

    • Bryan Kramer

      Hey Jeff, thanks for the note. My favorite brand who keeps it simple is Apple. Next up would be Lexus. Any company that can take a commodity and turn it into simple messaging around what you get. On the flip side I’d say Microsoft is very confusing, I’m not sure what they really do anymore as a business. I think they are trying to fix that, but they have a lot of work to do. Cheers!

  • Amar Trivedi

    Another neat post. Awesome title. Memorable content. ”Market to the heart. Sell to the head.” “G to the P.” Love the little “Key Takeaway” capsule at the end of each post. Blog on… \m//

    • Bryan Kramer

      Thanks Amar, much appreciated!

  • John Runk

    Now you’re speaking my language! I’ve been preaching your message to clients for years. Getting them to listen is easy. Getting them to believe, well, you know how that goes.

    • Bryan Kramer

      haha, I do. Thanks John!

  • Carrie Morgan

    Excellent article! I agree with your points completely – and also think part of the issue is simply content pushed out by bad writers. Carrie @   

  • Lesley Smith

    Nice post. The complex message – while it sometimes gets attention and success – is the exception not the rule. Simplicity can be powerful. Also, agree with Carrie Morgan’s comment about bad writers. Well said.

  • Saudamini

    Will keep it simple, stupid & G to the P-refreshing article, loved it, keep ‘em coming!

  • Maureen Tweed

    very good advice, I especially liked the comments about acronyms and swapping places with the receiver of your words (the audience). These are good rules for salespeople, those who use PowerPoint, write memos, instructions,  and many other business situations. 

  • Chuck Bartok

    Thanks for share

    • Bryan Kramer

      Thanks Chuck! Cheers :-)

  • Kare Anderson

    I commented yet did not seem it appear Bryan fyi

    • Bryan Kramer

      Oh no! Kare, I’m sorry I missed your comment. I checked spam and am not sure what happened. If you have a moment to try again, please reply to this thread with your thoughts. :-)

  • Frank Chavez

    These five rules work well for School Board Meetings. Allows for conducting Board business in a shorter time and everyone will go home satisfied.

    • Bryan Kramer

      Love it! Thanks Frank :-)

  • Kare Anderson

    Powerfully pithy and practical tips Bryan – thanks! I might add
    6. Get specific sooner
    7. Speak to one of their strongest concerns (follows up on #3
    8. Speak so they want to repeat it, giving A.I.R. to your message: Actionable. Interestingness. Relevant

    • Bryan Kramer

      I love A.I.R! Ironically an acronym, but love it nonetheless. :-)

      • Kare Anderson

        Yes I forgot to note the irony when I sent it to you, yet I believe that making up acronyms, especially very short ones, sometimes helps boost memorability, not as much as the “Compare to What?” cue however

  • Michelle Webb


  • Michelle Webb

    100% agree. When reviewing marketing copy I always ask my team to tell me how they would introduce and explain the product or service to a friend/ their mother/ boss (dependent on target audience) at a barbecue. Generally their spoken version is much clearer, simpler and compelling and the communication piece is then refined!

  • Andrea Naomi

    Haha!  I love the G to the P point :) Awesome!

  • Julius

    Wow!! Probably my biggest weakness by far!! Great post Bryan!! I speak alien all the time and spit rapid-fire acronyms way too often.

  • Lynn Abate-Johnson

    wow, between you guys and Ted Rubin, my business/life philosophy is not only validated, but you’ve come up with more great acronyms like “G to the P”.  awesome stuff.  OMG!  (tee hee, that’s a joke) and BTW, i just sent my profile in via your website, all the way from the North Bay!  crazy, i know ;-)

  • Laura Hulberg

    I cannot scream “YES!” loud enough!

  • Johnson

    Need to avoid dumbing down. “Keep it simple” deadens the language.