Explaining Baseball to a Five Year Old


My son Zach has made a few guest appearances in our blog here. He frequently says or does something that makes me see connections between my work, and my conversations with him. Despite his age, he seems to have a knack for saying the simple little things to inspire me. Anyway… he did it again this weekend.

I was watching a baseball game with Zach one evening. We have settled into a routine this spring where he can stay up a few minutes late if he wants to watch baseball with Mommy and me. And during that time, we have to work on understanding the rules. So we get him ready for bed, he can come back downstairs, and sit on the couch with Emily and me and we can talk baseball for a few minutes.

I love these family moments.

Last night, as we were discussing the rules, I fell into a common trap for someone who understands something well. I started using a lot of jargon, and specific vocabulary. And Zach looks at me and says “Daddy, can you use simpler words? I don’t understand anything you are saying.”

And yet again, Zach inspires a blog post!

My problem while watching baseball with my family is the exact same problem we see every day in our client work. If you understand something really well, and you are trying to explain it to someone who doesn’t, it takes some work and concentration to use simple, easy language. If you get stuck speaking in complicated terms and with complicated vocabulary, your audience will not fully understand it and your message will get lost.

This is true when explaining baseball to a five year old. And it is equally true when speaking in a presentation or a meeting or a conference call with someone who does not understand your topic the way that you do.

Make it simple. Use simple concepts. Use simple vocabulary. Otherwise, you will be speaking a foreign language and most of it will get lost in translation.

Good luck!

At The Latimer Group, our individual Coaching services are highly customized and designed to help you achieve your specific goals. Typical engagements focus on developing skill sets in Leadership Communications, Public Speaking, and Executive-Level Business Presentations. To learn more, e-mail us at info@TheLatimerGroup.com

Photo by Andrei Niemimäki used under the following license.


2 responses to “Explaining Baseball to a Five Year Old”

  1. Good for Zach for keeping us all grounded! Thanks for sharing, Dean.

  2. […] should be to give your audience nothing to be distracted by. Your goal with your slides should be simplicity, clarity and consistency. Every slide should have a purpose. Complete the following sentence: I am […]

Dean Brenner

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.