I may not know you but I do know this: you know a lot about something.
The Paradox of Know-A-Lot
Sometimes the more we understand something the worse job we do of explaining it. Why? Our familiarity makes us a bit careless in describing it. It's really tough to remember when we didn't know something that has become second nature.
Be honest: When you put your kid on that two-wheel bike for the first time, wasn't it a little harder to explain than you thought it might be? Nothing like trying to make the concept of "balance" a concrete reality to your four year-old who is, by now, actually lying on the concrete.
When we least expect it--in our area of specialty--ambiguity creeps in. Yet "meaning" depends upon personal experience, context, timing, and points of reference for all concerned.
In the 1980's I was working in the Middle East in an office with a group of guys from nine different countries. For a few, this assignment was their very first job and involved doing administrative work. For those who can hearken back that far, the process of photocopying was referred to as "burning" copies.
We handed one of the young guys a document and said, casually, "Go burn this."
Think carefully about the combination of your expertise, it's related language, and it's various contexts.
Might it be a good idea to put a PCR: Personal Clarity Reminder--on your checklist before your next meeting?
Bonus: To increase both clarity and impact, here are related lessons from the world of copywriting from Brian Clark at Copyblogger.
(Baltimore Sun photo by Lloyd Fox / December 26, 2008) Harry Hochheiser braves the chilly weather to teach his daughter, Elena, 7, how to ride a bike at Lake Montebello.