You should KISS at meetings. Not with your lips “kiss” (that’s up to you to choose), but KISS as in Keep It Simple Stupid*.
Take Instagram’s recent changes of their Terms and Conditions as a perfect example of how not to keep things simple.
If you haven’t heard, Instagram, the hugely popular photo-sharing service that was recently acquired by Facebook, changed their Terms and Conditions a week ago. “From now on”, they seemed to say, “we own your photos. Everything that you have uploaded over the years to your Instagram account is now ours.” Millions of users, along with celebrities such as Pink and Kate Walsh immediately urged people to download all their photos, delete their accounts and abandon Instagram.
But that’s not what Instagram said. They never said ‘we now own your photos’, and they never said ‘we will now be able to sell your content without asking you’. In fact, Kevin Systrom, the company’s CEO, wrote an entire post apologizing for the misunderstanding, explaining that the whole problem wasn’t in the change in the Terms and Conditions, but in the way they were interpreted by the Instagram users.
Because they didn’t KISS. Even Terms and Conditions can be written in plain English. Even Terms and Conditions that are written in legalese can be explained in plain English beforehand, just as Systrom did after the fact. This unnecessary confusion made things complicated, and responding a week late, may have caused them much harm.
Meetings are just the same.
How many times have you been at meetings which are all about ‘communicating the broad spectrum of brand choices to the community, while internalizing the requisite legal demands”? Isn’t it much easier to say ‘send an email to the users about our new products, and don’t forget an ‘unsubscribe’ link’?
It is that easy. And when you use simple language, and keep things simple stupid, then there’s a much smaller chance of being misunderstood. This means that tasks will be completed, projects will move forwards and be completed, and that your meetings are ultimately, more effective.
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* The original KISS stood for Keep It Simple Stupid, meaning make sure it’s stupidly (extremely) simple, not implying that you’re an idiot.