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Friday, June 25, 2010

Don't Speak like Patrick

Patrick Obahiagbon is a Nigerian federal lawmaker. But what’s more important about him is that he gets tonnes of applauds whenever he speaks. Reporters stumble over one another to get their midgets, recorders, microphones and cameras to his face. Patrick speaks. However, his audience are usually concerned about his use of words.
One day a reporter asked Patrick why he speaks the way he does. This is what he had to say:

“Sincerely speaking, I want to tender an unreserved apologia to my colleagues and all those who feel that my language is obscurantist. The truth is that I do not set out deliberately to mystify my audience, to deposit my audience in a portmanteau of indecipherability or in portmanteau of conundrum. No, no, no, no! Far from it. The cosmic force would not allow me to do that.

But, you see if you ask homo sapients who have interfaced with me for close to twenty years now, they would tell you that I no longer speak high sounding language. I have reduced it radically. If you have the opportunity to listen to my speeches or debates ten, fifteen years ago, then it would have been a different kettle of fish all together. So, I am convinced that I’ve tried, I am trying and I will continue to try to ensure that my language or my idiolect is as limpid and as diaphanous as possible.”

These days, the lawmaker causes more laughter than skilled stand-up comedians. His speech is often a bunch of entertainment, but little communication. Though he has become popular as the man with the big words, an orator maybe, he is a poor communicator.

The message is the most important element of communication. It’s like the goal in a soccer match, the other elements matter less.

Most times, simple does it. However, some audience might prefer a Patrick. The fact is that not so many of us have dictionaries in our heads.

So the next time you speak, whether during a one-on-one conversation or a graduation speech to over a thousand people, consider the makeup of the audience.

Communication is the essence.

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